Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 850 ..
MR STANHOPE (Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Community Affairs and Minister for the Environment) (11.56), in reply: Before addressing the nature of the bill before us today, I will refer back to the process we engaged in, in relation to this law reform issue, last year. There has been some discussion-or statements made around lack of time to engage in the debate. That is a charge I reject.
I might say, Mr Speaker, that it was early in 2002-around about this time last year, within months of coming into government-that I asked the department to undertake a review or audit of all legislation on the ACT's statute books, with a view to identifying the provisions within ACT legislation which discriminated against people in same-sex relationships-or gay and lesbian people.
That direction occurred-I do not remember the debate specifically-around this time last year. It was a massive task to look at every piece of ACT legislation-some thousands of pieces of ACT legislation-in the context of acts, regulations, and other legislative instruments, and to seek to identify all of those which discriminated against gays, lesbians, transgender or intersex people.
At this stage, I will acknowledge that the burden of work within the department in relation to this major law reform project has been undertaken by Bronwyn Leslie and Francis Brown. I acknowledge the enormous contribution they have made to this particular law reform process. It has been a magnificent effort of work.
It was further towards the middle of the year, when there had been some progress on that, that I announced that the department had identified about 70 pieces of legislation which directly discriminated against people in same-sex relationships, all of whom were gay and lesbian. I then announced that we would legislate in relation to the more straightforward discriminatory provisions, and that we would pursue a process in relation to those not so straightforward issues. It was as a consequence of that that I tabled this bill, as Mr Corbell has just said, in the first or second week of December last year. At the time, in the tabling speech-I quote from the Hansard-I said:
Because of the number and range of issues identified in the review, amendments to address discriminatory aspects of ACT legislation will proceed in two stages. This bill forms the first stage of this process. It contains the more straightforward amendments.
I go on to say:
The issues paper that I will be tabling today canvasses questions about the way ACT law deals with gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex people. The paper forms part of the second stage of the government's law reform process aimed at addressing discrimination on the basis of sexuality or gender identity. The aim of the issues paper is to ensure that policy development on those issues takes into account community and stakeholder views. The government will consult on these issues before deciding on the most appropriate way to progress these matters, and the issues paper is intended to serve as a focus for that community consultation.
The process we were engaged in was quite explicit, at the outset. I believe it has been an excellent process, managed in an excellent way by the Department of Justice and