Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 8 Hansard (25 June) . . Page.. 2188 ..
MR STEFANIAK (continuing):
adhocery gone mad. I am not saying that Ms Tucker is doing that by any stretch of the imagination. She has actually circulated this amendment in ample time and there is to be only one amendment.
There is a lot of strength in the principle which the Chief Minister has enunciated. Given his comment that there is a need to reform a raft of laws and that the government is doing so, I think that this amendment would be better left for that process. I think that that would be a much better process. For that reason and that reason alone, the opposition will not be supporting Ms Tucker's amendment.
MS DUNDAS (11.19): We have in this Statute Law Amendment Bill technical amendments that are meant to be non-controversial. We have a 400-page bill that contains 995 amendments and there is almost an element of trust about accepting this legislation. In the scrutiny that has been applied to it, a provision has been found that needs updating. Ms Tucker has moved an amendment to recognise same-sex couples in the Compensation (Fatal Injuries) Act. In inserting technical language to update this piece of legislation, we are working towards ending discrimination and the failure to recognise same-sex couples in ACT laws.
Putting an end to legal discrimination is something that I would hope all members of this Assembly could support. This will not be the only time that amendments such as this one come before the Assembly. As has been alluded to today, I have a comprehensive motion on the notice paper in relation to same-sex couples, but that comprehensive process will take some time and we have a duty now to look after same-sex couples.
This amendment, which some people seem to think goes close to the edge, was not snuck in with over 100 other amendments. It was put clearly on the table. Ms Tucker circulated it some time ago for all to consider and think it over. The simple point that we should be looking at is that we should be ensuring that our legislation is up to date and in line not only with other ACT laws, but also the principles and practices of this territory. The census has shown us that 2 per cent of the ACT are happy to be recognised as part of same-sex couples. Why should they continue to suffer legislative discrimination when obviously they, like everybody else in the ACT, have a right to fair and equal treatment and have a right, as part of a couple, to be able to access the shared money and the shared support that come from being part of that couple?
Use of the Compensation (Fatal Injuries) Act would occur at one of the most traumatic times in the lives of any couple. This amendment to the act will remove entrenched discrimination that makes its use so much harder for same-sex couples in the ACT. This is a fair and proper place to move this amendment. As I have said, we will be bringing this piece of legislation into line with other pieces of ACT law and into line with what I would hope will be non-discriminatory practices of the ACT Assembly with regard to marital status.
MR HUMPHRIES(Leader of the Opposition) (11.22): I want to emphasise what Mr Stefaniak has said about this amendment. The opposition does not wish to express any view about the intent behind Ms Tucker's amendment. In fact, given what the Assembly has considered before on related matters, there is a very formidable argument for legislative changes such as the one that Ms Tucker is proposing to be considered for