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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1063 ..



that the amendment I have put forward now is not to be taken as being overly broad, but I do believe that this amendment is a workable and fair amendment that seeks to describe the reality of relationships in our community. I do commend this amendment to the Assembly and I hope that the Assembly will support it as an inclusive and meaningful definition and a recognition of the reality that does face the queer community in the ACT.


(4.54): As Ms Dundas has explained, this amendment proposes the insertion of a subsection which states that people may be taken to be living together as a couple even though they are not physically living together. The example of indicators to decide whether two people are in a domestic partnership refers to whether they are living together and, if they are living together, how long and under what circumstances they have lived together. I understand that this amendment from Ms Dundas is not going to be successful but, in looking at this list, I am hoping that it could be taken into account because there is an "if"in the third point. The words, "If they are living together"seems to imply that they may be, but the other criteria could actually apply and would lead you to the conclusion that, in fact, there was a domestic relationship, even though they were not living together.

I do think that that is very important, particularly for people who are in same-sex relationships in our community. People here would be aware, or should be aware, that there are extreme hostilities in certain situations towards people who are in a relationship and are of the same sex. It can be a critical life decision for people to make to live together because it can mean that, by doing so, they have to forgo a lot of the other things that they want to pursue in their lives. I know one couple in that situation. One of the persons knows full well that, even though he is fantastic in his occupation and is valued in that occupation, if it were known that he had a relationships that was basically a domestic relationship with the other man his job would finish immediately. That is the tragedy of our society at this point in time.

There are other reasons that people are not able to live together but be in a domestic relationship. That can be about children. I know about another situation concerning two women who do not live together because of complications over children but who are most certainly one of the most loving, caring couples of everyone I know and have known. There are definitely circumstances for people which mean that, in fact, they are not living in the same house and yet they are most certainly in a domestic relationship. This is actually an important amendment by Ms Dundas and I am sorry that it is not going to be successful. But, as I said, I am hoping that any reasonable person who was actually looking at this situation in a place of responsibility would see within the criteria that exist here that their circumstances could be taken into account.


(Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (4.57): Mr Speaker, the government will not support this amendment. I understand what Ms Dundas is seeking to achieve. The government's view is that this amendment would represent a significant change to the law. To the extent that there has been some concern about the levels of consultations and the length of the consultation period, I believe that this proposal should have been consulted on at some length.

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