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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2006 Week 6 Hansard (8 June) . . Page.. 2034..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

marriage, a civil union, a registration scheme or whatever-and equating it to a cooling-off period effectively for something like a conveyance or buying something on hire-purchase or whatever. So I think it is bad law. It does reek of a stunt. For those reasons we are opposing it.

MR BARR (Molonglo-Minister for Education and Training, Minister for Tourism, Sport and Recreation and Minister for Industrial Relations) (10.53): I thought, in response to Mr Stefaniak's points, it would be worth pointing out that, since the passage of the bill, my office has received-I am sure many other members' offices have been inundated-requests for information about how couples might go about entering into a civil union. Some people have been waiting for it for their lives, Mr Stefaniak. It has been denied them for such a long time.

There are queues of people who are waiting for this legislation to get up and running who have already made lifelong commitments to each other and who are looking for the chance to see that legally recognised. For them the decision was made a long time ago to live together, to share a life together. I have had couples approach my office who have been in relationships for 20 years or more and who are really looking forward to the opportunity to enter into a civil union and to take up the opportunity that this legislation presents them, and I wish them all the very best in those endeavours.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo-Attorney-General, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and Minister for Planning) (10.54), in reply: I will simply close the debate. I want to reiterate quickly that the government would have preferred to maintain the existing provisions, but our hand has been forced by the autocratic decision of the federal government to overturn a law lawfully made by this Assembly. We believe, as Mr Barr has outlined, that people in the ACT who are in a same-sex relationship and who wish to enter into a civil union should still be given that opportunity. They should not be denied it because of the exceptional circumstances that we are now facing.

So we are going to provide that opportunity, and we are going to provide for people to take the opportunity to enter into a civil union knowing full well that there is a risk associated with that. I have no doubt that anyone entering into a civil union will know very well what the circumstances are around the possible discontinuance of this legislation. Nevertheless, we know that they want to do it. As Mr Barr says, in many instances they have been waiting all of their adult lives to do it. Why should we deny them that opportunity even if there is potentially-we certainly hope it will not be the case-a narrow window to do it in

So that is the purpose of this amendment. Yes, we are showing defiance to the commonwealth government, and rightly we should. This legislation should be allowed to stand and this legislation should be available to all Canberrans who wish to exercise the opportunities it presents. That is the purpose of this bill and I commend it to the Assembly.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Leave granted to dispense with the detail stage.

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