Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 2 Hansard (16 February) . .
Similarly, the changes relating to flexibility in documenting name changes do not cause any concern. The proposed amendments to the Births, Death and Marriages Registration Act will allow local residents who choose to marry overseas to change their name officially without their original surname being removed from their birth certificate. The new surname can be noted on the back of the birth certificate.
The provisions relating to creating a recognised details certificate, a new identity document for the ACT, are not problematic; nor are the sections relating to the creation of proof of identity cards. There are, however, a couple of items that become more problematic and have caused some discussion. The first area of concern is the provisions relating to the removal of gender-specific terms, and the second is the issue relating to birth certificates. With regard to gender-specific terms, these are issues that we need to monitor.
I turn particularly to the issue of birth certificates. The bill allows people to use terms such as "birth parent" and "other parent" in official documentation such as birth certificates if they choose, instead of the terms "mother" and "father." We will be supporting this, but let me be clear that the Canberra Liberals recognise and respect the importance of the roles of mothers and fathers in our society and in our laws. I want to make it very clear that we would not ever support the removal of those terms from our legal system or from birth certificates.
Thankfully—it is good to note, and I support the fact—the importance of recognition of these terms does appear to be noted in the government's legislation. The explanatory statement explicitly states that the bill acknowledges that the terms "mother" and "father" are important to many people. The bill also specifically recognises the rights of those people who wish to have them used on official documentation.
While we will always defend the role of mothers and fathers in our society and our laws, we are certainly not closed to offering a choice in appropriate situations, as long as it is a genuine choice. What I mean is that the element of choice is important in our support for these changes, and for them to work when in operation. We need to make sure that, for those who are filling in the forms for a birth certificate, parents know that that choice exists.
With that in mind, this is important regarding the operation of the bill. We need to make sure that the documentation involved makes it very clear that the choice is available for people to have "mother" and "father" on that birth certificate, or the "birth parent" or "other parent", as they so choose. That needs to be very clear, so that people are aware that there is not a default position as such and that people do not just make the choice because they are unaware of that.
I am aware of a proposed amendment from Mr Rattenbury with regard to mothers and fathers. I indicate that we will not be supporting that amendment, as it was only circulated yesterday. In my view, and that of my colleagues, it goes a step too far. We will deal with that in the detail stage.
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