Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 8 Hansard (25 October) . . Page.. 1973 ..
MR SPEAKER: I would like to acknowledge the presence in the gallery of students from Charnwood High School.
MR CONNOLLY (10.31): Mr Speaker, I seek leave to present a discussion paper and draft legislation in relation to the Domestic Relationships Act.
MR CONNOLLY: Mr Speaker, last year this Assembly passed legislation which was acknowledged around Australia and in other jurisdictions as being groundbreaking legislation in the area of providing access to equality in property rights for people in same sex relationships and for people who are long-term carers of others. The issue of property rights for persons in gay relationships has been an issue of concern around Australia for many years. Indeed, the issue of property rights for people in relationships who are not married, regardless of the sexual nature of the relationship, is a problem. We saw last year in Queensland where the partners of miners who perished in a mining tragedy were disadvantaged because the de facto relationships legislation in that State at the time did not give them equality in property rights on the same basis as married persons.
Two years ago the Labor Government of the ACT sought to address this injustice with a very innovative legislative approach, and that was to create the concept of a domestic relationship which would cover the issue of same sex property rights and also the issue of persons who for many years provided care to another - perhaps a daughter looking after an ageing mother or a more distant relation; a person who gave up their own career prospects and put a lot of effort - financial, physical and emotional - into providing long-term care in circumstances which gave rise to an expectation that they would have some right over the common property only to find that that right was thwarted.