Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1295 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
at least-the female in the relationship who got the thin end of the stick in relation to the distribution of superannuation. This was because, traditionally, it was the male in a partnership who was in the paid work force, who gained longer accrued superannuation. In a heterosexual relationship, more often than not, it was the woman who stood out of the paid work force-for a range of reasons around family and home-making. Because her career was disrupted, she invariably did not contribute to the same extent as a male partner in relation to superannuation. So you come to the crux, and practical matters.
The Commonwealth currently has in place, under the Family Law Act, a whole new regime in relation to superannuation. Under that regime, the legal advice is that the states cannot implement this-only the Commonwealth. I have legal advice to that effect which I am more than happy to make available.
The thrust of it is that the new Commonwealth family law and superannuation legislation regime for the division of superannuation interests covers only married people. The advice I have is that this regime could be extended to de facto couples. That is a major advance for every de facto couple. Through the referral of these powers, they would have available to them the capacity to utilise laws in relation to the splitting of superannuation.
I do not think, for the sake of the very strong principle that Mr Hargreaves seeks to impress through this motion, that this jurisdiction believes it is inappropriate for the Commonwealth not to accept a reference in relation to same sex, as an expression of a moral view or position around same-sex relationships. Mr Hargreaves' motion delivers that point.
Ms Dundas' amendment would perhaps strengthen the point, but it strengthens the point at a cost to de facto heterosexual couples. I do not know that it is appropriate to deny all de facto heterosexual couples access to major reforms in family law for the sake of a principle that is perhaps, but not necessarily, enhanced.
Mr Hargreaves' motion makes the point. To what extent does Ms Dundas' amendment to the motion make the point more effectively? What is going to be the difference with regard to the Commonwealth's position? We express our opposition, and we do it quite clearly.
MR HUMPHRIES (Leader of the Opposition): I am advised that I need to seek leave to speak to this amendment. I have spoken to it before.
MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, having heard the Attorney-General, I am not persuaded that we should support the amendment Ms Dundas has moved. The argument that Mr Stanhope would not wish the Assembly to reverse the position he has already taken at SCAG, is not an argument that carries a great deal of weight with me. In fact, I would advise Mr Stanhope that he should get used to the fact that the Assembly will spoil his plans on a number of occasions, if my time in government is anything to go by. However,