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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 881 ..

MR STANHOPE: I did not have the explanatory memorandum this morning, but just look at what we are dealing with here today. Mrs Dunne, I would suggest that this is why there have not been rabid letters to the editor.

Look at some of the things we are doing today. When I spoke earlier, I mentioned the Legal Practitioners Act. This is what we are doing with the Legal Practitioners Act: section 102 of the Legal Practitioners Act limits the class of people who can be engaged to conduct an audit of trust monies and other monies controlled by a solicitor. A natural person may not be engaged to conduct an audit if he or she is the spouse or de facto spouse of the solicitor by whom the records are kept. We are amending that section to include domestic partners-people engaged in a bona fide domestic relationship.

So, in fact, we are extending the ambit of a probative position under the Legal Practitioners Act to now provide that a natural person may not be engaged to conduct an audit if he or she is the spouse or de facto spouse of the solicitor or the domestic partner in a bona fide domestic relationship irrespective of whether or not they are heterosexual or homosexual. That is what we are doing. We are actually extending a probative provision that applies to legal practitioners.

Look at the issues in relation to the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act. Section 4 of the Mental Health (Treatment and Care) Act currently provides for the definition of spouse. "Spouse"is defined to include a person who is not legally married to the person but who lives with the person on a bona fide domestic basis. The definition is used in the definition of "relative", which includes a spouse. The definition of spouse relies on common law precedent and does not stipulate the sex of the couple but presumes it is a heterosexual relationship. Why, in relation to mental health treatment and care around issues of information, advice and consultation, would you not include people other than those who live in a heterosexual relationship?

There are a number of provisions in the bill in relation to protection orders and the remand centre to do with search-the searching of transgender people or intersex people. Ms Dundas and the government have a range of amendments in respect of this issue.

I have mentioned the Powers of Attorney Act, and the issue there is essentially the same issue as in relation to the Legal Practitioners Act. It is a new probative position which in fact picks up people. It includes within a probative provision in relation to powers of attorney people in gay and lesbian relationships. It actually includes them in a new range of responsibilities going to issues around probity.

There are a whole range of provisions of that ilk. There are provisions in relation to the Cooperatives Act and the Civil Law (Wrongs) Act. None of these provisions addresses this fundamental issue, which seems to be concerning you so much, around marriage and the definition and notion of marriage, and individual views around the sanctity of a marriage between a man and a woman.

So, Mrs Dunne, I would like to suggest that the Canberra Times has not received a barrage of letters because people have picked up and looked through the discussion paper and the bill and thought, "Well, why wouldn't you do that?"They probably expressed or

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