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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 856 ..

That the Legislation (Gay, Lesbian and Transgender) Amendment Bill 2002 be referred to the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs for inquiry and report by the first sitting day in August 2003.

Mr Speaker and members, I think one has to ask what is the absolute urgency of this being dealt with now. There are a number of major issues that need looking at and testing out-a committee will do that. The obvious committee is the Standing Committee on Legal Affairs. That is the appropriate committee to look at a bill such as this. In fact, it is currently getting submissions in relation to another bill with a number of contentious issues-that is in relation to industrial manslaughter.

I do not think I have received so many letters from interested parties in relation to this piece of legislation, and indeed the discussion paper, than I have since one of the abortion debates. The amount of correspondence I have received is probably greater than some of the other times the issue has come up. The correspondence has not been all one way-there are a number of people who have asked, in their correspondence, why this can't be looked at properly. They have made a suggestion: why doesn't an Assembly committee look at this issue?

Indeed one of the groups which will be affected by this-I think it was someone writing on behalf of the transgender group-indicated they did not feel they had been consulted enough. They wanted the opportunity to address the issue and they specifically suggested: is a committee going to be looking at that? Is there some way we can have our say?

So it is not only on one side of the issue that people would like to see this go to a committee-there are a number of other important issues. There is also the fact that other people have asked, "Why are we doing this now, when we have an issues paper out as well, which the government is not going to report on until May? What is the rush to do in doing this now, when we have stage 2-or perhaps some other issues in the issues paper that should be looked at? Why isn't it better to do it all at once?"

Mr Jim Wallace is one person who comes to mind. Former Brigadier Wallace has asked several times, "Why can't this all be done at once-surely that would be more logical?"

I would ask: what is the harm in sending this to a committee? Other people have raised some significant issues-I have not had a chance to go into those fully. One is what effect the legislation that is likely to be passed today, if it goes through today, will have-and what consistency it has with various pieces of federal legislation, such as the Marriage Act and the Family Law Act. Those are other issues I believe we need to look at properly, to ensure that whatever comes out of this process works and is not going to get bowled over in the first court case in which someone takes it on.

There were some crucially important issues raised by a large number of my correspondents-I think the Attorney raised this. They raised significant issues around such things as the sanctity of marriage-issues that go to the very foundations of our society. When many of these people say, "We want a chance to be heard,"they specifically mention that this is something important, which should go to a committee. That is good consultation. It is proper consultation on major issues-and these are major issues.

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