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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 855 ..

The government's position in relation to that has always been that this first tranche of reforms was to deal with the more straightforward, less complex and less controversial issues of law reform in relation to these issues. We believe that the proposal being pursued by Ms Dundas in this instance would be better left for the second round of reform, to be facilitated through the government's response to the issues paper.

I will conclude but, for the sake of completeness in this debate, in that context the topics included for discussion and consultation in the issues paper go very much to matters previously mentioned in relation to issues around unions; the nature, prospect or circumstances where the law might recognise a union between persons of the same sex-lesbians and gays. It goes to the range of issues in relation to parenting rights-issues in relation to adoption, surrogacy and the availability of IVF.

This is a broad range of complex issues which go to those areas where the ACT government does not have legislative or constitutional authority and the extent to which we, as a territory with constitutional limitations, can respond to areas of Commonwealth law that discriminate blatantly against gay and lesbian people and how we, as a jurisdiction not prepared to simply accept such discrimination, can respond. The most current and relevant example of that is the Commonwealth's blatant refusal to accept a reference from the states in relation to de facto marriage, or to accept a reference as it affects people of the same sex and the consequential or knock-on discrimination flowing from that, particularly in relation to issues such as superannuation.

These are some of the issues that I would hope will be pursued by this Assembly, and by this community, in a further and robust community debate and engagement on issues that will be synthesised by the department in the government's response to the issues paper and the large range of submissions we have received on it.

I acknowledge, as I say, that Ms Dundas would pursue a different definition of domestic relationship-that essentially her position is one of acknowledgement that this is an area of law reform that we need to progress, and today is the day for that to occur.

Mr Smyth has foreshadowed an amendment. I will say more on it in the detail stage, but Mr Smyth's amendment goes to the same issue of the definition of domestic relationship. Ms Dundas would broaden the definition and Mr Smyth would narrow it. These are valid points of view, and they can be legitimately put. However, I am pleased that, as I understand it, there is a strong consensus of view today around the legislative package the government has presented. I look forward to its passage.

Question resolved in the affirmative.

Bill agreed to in principle.

Reference to committee


(12.17): I move, in accordance with standing order 174:

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