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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (9 April) . . Page.. 819 ..

MS GALLAGHER: What feedback has been received from the Deakin workshop?

MR CORBELL: Thank you for the question, Ms Gallagher. As I indicated in my answer, about 100 residents and other interested parties attended the Deakin workshop. That is an excellent response for any public meeting. The feedback has been very positive. Residents representatives said that the process encouraged people to put forward their views, and that it was well facilitated. Industry comment included support for the process, and that it was inclusive of both resident and industry perspectives. This is an exciting and collaborative approach, and I think we will see it go from strength to strength as the program rolls out over the next couple of months.

Same-sex couples-rights

MS DUNDAS: My question is to the Attorney-General. Mr Stanhope, does your government intend to implement your election platform that you will "establish an inquiry to investigate and make recommendations to achieve equal legal status for gays and lesbians in the ACT, introduce programs to fight discrimination and vilification of gays and lesbians, and legislate for two people, regardless of gender, to enter into legally recognised union", or do you believe, as quoted in your media release of 8 March, that the ACT has taken this issue as far as it can? Do you intend to break your promises to the queer community of the ACT?

MR STANHOPE: Heaven forbid that we break any promises.

Mr Humphries: Where shall we start?

MR STANHOPE: Yes, where shall we start? There were a range of issues in the question asked by Ms Dundas. I might start with some of the work currently being done. You may be aware, for instance, that one of the issues actively progressed in relation to matters affecting gay and lesbian people is property rights and the referral of power by the states and territories, at least by the states, to the Commonwealth in relation to de facto relationships and same-sex partnerships.

At the last meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General it was agreed by all states and territories that there should be a referral of power to the Commonwealth in relation to de facto relationships. That is something that has been discussed. My predecessors, Mr Stefaniak and Mr Humphries, would be well aware of the discussions that have been going on over some years in SCAG in relation to the referral of powers to the Commonwealth in that area.

A difficulty, and my colleague Mr Hargreaves has, I think, given notice of a motion for private members business in relation to this issue, is that regrettably the Commonwealth, whilst agreeing to accept a referral of power in relation to de facto relationships to allow property issues affecting de facto relationships to be dealt with by the Family Court rather than the courts of the states and territories, refuses to accept a reference in relation to same-sex partners. That is regrettable and I hope that the Commonwealth will reconsider its opposition to legislating in relation to same-sex partnerships and accept a reference.

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