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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1057 ..



legal officers. Firstly, he questioned the need for the amendment because, if the people concerned are legally married, that would be the end of it as, obviously, that would mean that they were in a domestic partnership. If that were the case, there would be absolutely no drama, I would think, in putting it in here because that would indeed be the end of it; it would be an example of something which would indicate that there was a domestic partnership-end of story. I think that he was drawing a long bow there.

He was also drawing a long bow in relation to the example he was given, which, as I recall, was a case of A and B having been living together for 10 years and B still being legally married to C, even though they had not lived together for over 10 years, which is not uncommon in our society. If that were the situation, A and B would be quite clearly in a domestic partnership under this legislation; there is no doubt about that at all. Their relationship would be covered as well by section 12 of the Domestic Relationship Act 1994, because they would have been in a domestic relationship for not less than two years.

I do not think that the example holds water because, under the existing law and, indeed, under this new law, that couple would be in a domestic partnership. Again, I say that I think that he has drawn a long bow there and I just do not think that his objection holds water. I think that it would be eminently sensible for Mrs Burke's amendment to be put into the legislation. It would not do any harm to the legislation. Far from it, I think that it would assist.

I think that it is important, too, given what happened when we had the in-principle debate on Tuesday. There is a fair bit of angst in the community. Rightly or wrongly, people are concerned about a downplaying of legal marriages. Whilst legal marriages are part and parcel of this legislation, it certainly does not hurt at all to make that quite plain by putting in example 2A, as suggested by Mrs Burke. I support her in that regard and commend that amendment to the Assembly.


(4.33): I will not be supporting Mrs Burke's amendment today. I would like to refresh members on what we did on Tuesday. The Attorney-General has proposed some amendments to section 169 of the Legislation Act. This section relates to references to domestic partners and domestic partnerships. The Legislation Act reads:

(1) In an Act or statutory instrument, a reference to a person's domestic partner is a reference to someone who lives with that person in a domestic partnership, and includes a reference to a spouse of the person.

The Attorney-General has included the following note:

The Macquarie Dictionary, 3rd edition defines spouse as "either member of a married pair in relation to the other; one's husband or wife".

Subsection (1) makes quite clear that a domestic partner includes somebody who is married to someone else. With this amendment, the Attorney-General is including an example of indicators, a list of indicators, of what should be considered in trying to define whether two people who are not immediately recognised as spouses, because "spouse"relates only to married people, are in a domestic partnership. I think it is very important not to cloud this list by including a reference to whether they are married.

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