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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 5 Hansard (8 May) . . Page.. 1296 ..

MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):

the argument about effectively losing the opportunity to legislate in respect of heterosexual de facto couples is a persuasive one.

The Commonwealth is obviously willing to legislate in respect of that. The fact that that takes forward the position of people in de facto heterosexual relationships in Australia is an important step forward. I would urge the government not to miss the opportunity-not that, as Mr Stanhope has explained, we have a choice about the matter-to be part of the process of making that happen, at this stage.

I suppose there are no official figures to this effect, but I suspect the overwhelming majority of de facto relationships in Australia are heterosexual ones. It is important for us to make sure we have an opportunity to advance their position. So, Mr Speaker, this is an important advance. It may be that that can be added to, at some point in the future. That is the point at which we can come back to the debate in the terms of Ms Dundas, who has moved this amendment.

MS DUNDAS: I was going to close debate on my amendment.

MR SPEAKER: That is not open to you.

MS DUNDAS: It is not?

MR SPEAKER: No. You do not get to close debate on your amendment. Mr Hargreaves will get to close debate on his motion, but you will not get to close debate on yours, unless you have the leave of the Assembly to speak again.

MS DUNDAS: I seek leave to speak again on my amendment.

Leave granted.

MS DUNDAS: Mr Speaker, I thank the Assembly for allowing me to speak again on this motion. I accept-how could I not accept it?-the statement made by Mr Stanhope regarding the ACT's power to refer. However, I believe this Assembly has the power to make a strong statement on the very important issue of human rights.

Mr Hargreaves' motion is initially doing that by repeating the call from the Attorneys-General to the federal government to take a reference of power in relation to de facto relationship property matters, regardless of sex. My amendment reinforces that point. My understanding, as I have just said, is that the Attorneys-General have requested a referral in terms of both same-sex and heterosexual de facto couples.

I therefore believe that the wording of my amendment does not wind back the position of SCAG but reinforces it. As Mr Stanhope has indicated, the Attorneys-General have expressed their concern that the federal government would accept only part of the referral made by SCAG. I therefore believe my amendment does not contradict anything that SCAG or the Attorneys-General have done, but merely reinforces it. This is a key point.

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