Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1750..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
Obviously, these amendments were produced pretty quickly after the attorney's statement—I would imagine on Sunday. We did not see them until the luncheon adjournment today. They certainly were not here at 12.30. I cannot in any way say with any confidence that they are absolutely watertight and will do exactly what is required in terms of a registration scheme. Certainly, from the very cursory glance I had at them, as far as I can gather they appear to institute a registration scheme. They appear not to offend the federal Marriage Act and the institution of marriage, as defined in that act.
I must say I have not had a chance to look at the Powers of Attorney Act, the Rates Act, the Sale of Motor Vehicles Act, the guardianship act or the Wills Act to cross-reference that. Nor has my meagre staff had a chance to do that. After all, today and this week have been dominated by the budget. One wonders why we have had two very significant bills debated last night and in the early hours of Friday morning in a budget week. Why are we dealing with this bill tonight? The government could have had something very similar up and running by simply adopting our bill back in May 2006. Why could this not be done properly in June, and why the huge sense of urgency now when people have been basically left hanging out to dry for the last two years?
Whilst, on the surface, this appears to be correct—I hope it is—I hope for everyone's sake that the federal government is not going to find something wrong with this or that you are offending a federal act and knock it on the head again. I hope this actually does the job of a registration scheme.
I have had a quick look at it. I do not know that it is exactly like the Tasmanian registration scheme, which allows those in a non-sexual relationship, a caring relationship, to also benefit from that scheme. About 21/2 years ago, when I introduced our bill, I said that that was very much the beauty of the Tasmanian scheme. It not only gives loving couples, be they same sex or opposite sex, the chance to register their feelings for each other and have it accepted by law; it also gives people in a caring relationship that ability as well.
I do not quite see that here. In fact, I think that is probably excluded by pages 1 and 2 of the amendments. I may be wrong, but I simply have not had the chance, which is a problem in itself, to actually sit down and go through all of these amendments with the care and attention that should be given to them, simply because it was physically impossible to do so in the time allowed.
I make those points in relation to the amendments and in relation to the bill itself. Our position as a party has been quite clear. We came to the view very early on in this debate that the Tasmanian registration scheme was fair. Not everyone liked it. I gather some of the Christian groups were a little bit iffy about it, but they accepted it. Two years ago—it was reiterated recently—the Roman Catholic Church, the Anglican Church and even the Australian Christian lobby supported a registration scheme. At the very least they accepted it.
You had a consultation period, and I do not for a minute accept that there was some mandate to do it; I do not think many people in Canberra sift through everyone's