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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2004 Week 01 Hansard (Tuesday, 10 February 2004) . . Page.. 94 ..

The people of Canberra do not want this legislation to pass. The Canberra Liberals do not want this legislation to pass. I can only hope that the crossbenches also do not want this legislation to pass. How many people need to be opposed to this legislation for the Labor government to take notice and properly represent their constituents? How many more emails and letters of concern need to arrive in our offices before the Labor government realises that this is not what the people of Canberra want?

Children have a right to both a mother and a father. The Labor government has no right to take that away from an innocent child. The rights of the child and the sensible development of values in our children are fundamental responsibilities of this government, and this government is failing in this. Look after our children first, not the desires of other lobbies. Children first, Mr Stanhope. Do your job.

MS DUNDAS (5.58): Mr Deputy Speaker, I will be proudly supporting this bill today.

An incident having occurred in the gallery

MR DEPUTY SPEAKER: Order! Members of the gallery are welcome to listen to this debate, but they may not applaud. They must remain silent and behave themselves, otherwise I will clear the gallery.

MS DUNDAS: This bill is about treating all children equally. This bill helps ensure that all children have the same rights and protection of the law, regardless of the gender of their parents. It places the legal responsibilities of being a parent on everyone who has children in the ACT, regardless of whether they are of the same sex.

This means that those children who have same-sex parents will be able to get consent for emergency medical treatment from both their parents. They will be entitled to compensation if either of their parents is killed at work. They will have a claim to child support from both their parents in the event of a separation. They will have a right to claim benefits from the estate of both their parents if one of them dies.

The Australian Democrats’ national policy on this issue is very clear. To quote from our national policy on sexuality and gender:

The Australian Democrats believe there should be no discrimination based on sexuality or gender identity against couples in their assessment for suitability and eligibility for parenting…We believe that eligibility criteria for fertility and surrogate programs should not discriminate on the grounds of sexuality or gender.

I am proud to be in a party that will stand up for and unequivocally state our support for the equal rights of all people and for all families.

The structure of the family has changed constantly throughout history. The idealised nuclear family, with just a mother, a father and 2.3 children, is, in fact, a very recent invention. A couple of centuries ago, the nuclear family was very rare; it has not been around for tens of thousands of years. Most people lived in extended family groups, with grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, sisters-in-law and others all in one extended family household and with adults taking responsibility for all children in that household, be they their direct descendants or not.

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