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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 885 ..

amendment. As I indicated earlier, in the view of government this amendment essentially seeks to create a hierarchy of relationships. It seems to us that what Mr Smyth and the Liberals are doing is seeking to quite directly undermine the process we are engaged in today by saying that all relationships are equal but some are more equal than others.

The Liberal Party amendment seeks to omit proposed new section 169 and substitute the following new section:

169 References to domestic partner and domestic partnership

(1) In an Act or statutory instrument, a reference to a person's domestic partner is a reference to someone who lives with the person in a domestic partnership.

(2) In an Act or statutory instrument, a domestic partnership is the relationship-

and here is the hierarchy-

(a) between 2 people living together in a legal marriage; or

(b) between 2 people of the opposite sex living together as spouses on a genuine domestic basis; or

(c) between 2 people of the same sex living together as a couple on a genuine domestic basis.

There is your hierarchy. You have created a hierarchy, and the creation of hierarchies is completely contrary to the purpose that we are addressing here today. It seems to me, it seems to the government, and I think it would seem to anybody reading this amendment, that the amendment is internally discriminatory in the first place. It refers to concepts of opposite sex and same sex, unlike the government's definition which uses the expression "whether of a different or the same sex", and it does not take account of the relationship of transgender or intersex people. The definition proposed by Mr Smyth and the Liberals also unnecessarily complicates the legislation by breaking down into three subsets the central concept of two people living together on a genuine domestic basis. It is legally unnecessary.

The definition of domestic partnership in the government's bill is simple and inclusive. The definition in the bill does not affect the current operation of any legislation that is not amended by either bill. The definition also does not preclude the use of specific terms such as "spouse"if there is a need to distinguish this particular legal relationship in any future legislation that the Assembly may pass. And we need to remain mindful of that in the context of some of the debate that we have had, particularly in relation to the views around whether there has been appropriate consultation or whether there is a need to send this matter off for further investigation. It is important to remain mindful of the fact that there is no impediment to the continued use of the term "spouse"if appropriate or legitimate in any specific or special legislation.

There is nothing to be gained from Mr Smyth's amendment, apart from establishing a hierarchy of relationship, and the government, as I say, will not be supporting it. Mr

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