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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 1908..


MR SPEAKER: Order, Mr Smyth!

Mr Smyth: I apologise, Mr Speaker. I was baited from across the chamber.

MR SPEAKER: Thank you.

MR BARR: Thank you, Mr Speaker. That is what really matters. You cannot walk both sides of the street on this-you just cannot. The people who earlier were opposing both the Tasmanian registration scheme and any move at all to recognise same-sex couples and who reluctantly came on board and prompted the Liberal Party to move their registration bill have now gone public and said, "No, the whole thing is stuffed. You should move away from the lot."They are now backtracking on their position.

The Australian Christian Lobby, the ones who had the huge fight with the salt shakers about in any way recognising gay and lesbian people and who made a small concession to prompt the Liberal Party to put up the registration bill, have now issued a media release saying that you should not recognise same-sex couples at all. This is fundamentally it. That was all about trying to get a second-rate registration scheme here in the ACT.

MR SPEAKER: Mr Barr, you should not reflect on a vote of the Assembly.

MR BARR: There are a number of people within the Liberal Party, I know, who are very uncomfortable-and I come back to that point-about what the federal government are proposing here. I call on them, if this becomes a disallowable instrument in the federal parliament, as I understand is required if the Governor-General seeks to intervene, to have some guts and stand up for what they believe in. It is Warren Entsch and a range of people. It is also the senators, including Gary Humphries. I welcome the comments Senator Humphries has made already in this debate.

In closing, this is about values; this is about where Australian society is heading. We have taken a sensible, moderate step to be tolerant and inclusive in our society. If the Liberal Party has a problem with that, then it just leaves me speechless.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (11.29): Speaking to the amendment, we are yet to hear any compelling argument from those on the other side of the chamber. Their silence is deafening, because they know their position is absolutely untenable. That is reflected in this amendment proposed by Mr Stefaniak. His amendment in fact refutes that the Civil Unions Act is a lawful exercise of the legislative power of this Assembly made pursuant to a political mandate given to elected representatives in this place by the people of the Australian Capital Territory.

I simply draw Mr Stefaniak's attention and the attention of other members opposite to the self-government act. The self-government act 1998 outlines the matters concerning which the executive has power to govern the territory. One of those matters is civil liberties and human rights. That says it all. This legislation is about equality before the law. The self-government act provides for this Assembly to make laws and provides for the executive to govern on issues of civil liberties and human rights.


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