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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1287 ..

MS DUNDAS (continuing):

would undermine everything that the ACT government has said-even the sentiments of this motion.

If the Assembly and the ACT government believe that the Commonwealth's position is discriminatory and unjust, then to refer these powers anyway would be worse. The ACT would be giving tacit approval to the Commonwealth's stance and reinforcing the social divide and discrimination that exists. This is a basic human rights issue. We need to draw a line in the sand and stand firm. This government should not be agreeing to any proposal that is so obviously homophobic and discriminatory. That is why I have moved my amendment.

MR SPEAKER: Ms Tucker, in relation to your amendment, I have just received advice that it would be better if you did not move it now. You may wish to speak to the motion and to that amendment generally, but it would be better if you dealt with your amendment after Ms Dundas' amendment is dealt with.

MS TUCKER (11.36): Thank you, Mr Speaker. I will seek leave later to move my amendment. I will speak to the general motion at the moment.

The Greens are also pleased to support this motion. The Commonwealth government's attitude to same-sex couples, demonstrated again at the recent COAG meeting, is really quite appalling.

The reference of power is, of course, about how people are treated when their relationships break down. How shameful that the Commonwealth government will not give gays and lesbians equal, straightforward, access to the legal resolution of property settlements when their long-term relationships break down. I thank Mr Hargreaves for bringing this matter forward. We are happy to support it.

I will be moving an amendment to this motion. My amendment adds a paragraph relevant to the steps we can take, here in the ACT, to reduce discrimination. The Labor Party made an election commitment to establish an inquiry to investigate and make recommendations to achieve equal legal status for gays and lesbians in the ACT. This amendment lets the Assembly put its weight behind this project.

In his answer to Ms Dundas' question about progress to this end, Mr Stanhope indicated that he had already begun to look into the matter. So I think we have support here in the Assembly for this project-we just need to make sure we follow through.

Mr Stanhope acknowledged that Western Australia has recently surpassed the ACT in this regard. Our Domestic Relationships Act was previously a bit of a high-water mark, and our Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of sexuality. But there is more to be done. It is especially needed in some more subtle provisions where same-sex couples are simply not acknowledged.

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