Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 889 ..
domestic partnerships based on the gender of two partners. Why should a relationship between two people who have a mutual commitment to share their lives and love be treated differently depending on their gender? That is at the core of the discrimination that we are trying to remove today.
MR PRATT(4.24): Mr Speaker, I personally support the removal of discrimination. I also support the need for couples of any sexual relationship and background to have legal access to all the services and support that a community can provide.
The opposition does not seek to insult people of a non-heterosexual background, as Ms Dundas claims. Indeed, I support Mr Smyth's amendment because, whilst we respect and seek to ensure that there is no discrimination and that the human rights of all people of all backgrounds are defended and looked after, we also want to make sure that the sanctity of marriage and the traditional relationships-the bedrock on which our society was founded-are maintained. That is as important as the objectives that are being pursued by the government and the crossbenchers in relation to other issues.
Mr Speaker, I am concerned that we do not send confused signals to the youth of our community about what is important; that we do not confuse the youth of our community about important society values. It is against that background that I rise to support Mr Smyth's amendment.
MR CORNWELL(4.26): I must say that, unlike the prepared response that we heard earlier to a question on this matter from Mrs Cross, I thought the other comments and suggestions by the Chief Minister-and I notice he is still alone in the chamber; I do not know what has happened to his Labor colleagues-were more like something out of 1984 than Animal Farm, in which some people are more equal than others. Really, the excuses that you put forward for rejecting Mr Smyth's amendment were quite pathetic.
I do not understand the Chief Minister's problem. You say that you wish to incorporate all of these forms of domestic relationships under one phrase. I do not know why you feel that is necessary. As I say, the wording owes more to 1984 newspeak than perhaps current English.
But the point is this: you are conveniently ignoring the fact that, as I said earlier in the debate, a significant number of the community probably do not want their status changed. They are quite happy to have other status acknowledged but they do not particularly want their status changed. Yet what you are proposing here is to put everybody under the one phrase. I have to say that, in practical terms, I fear this is just sheer tokenism because most people out in the community are going to continue to use the terms that they have always used. I do not know whether that means there will be some problems for them when the second part of this legislation comes through-we sincerely hope not.
I would simply ask, Mr Chief Minister: why do you take it upon yourself to deny other people the definition of their own relationships in order to narrow this down? You accused Mr Smyth of narrowing it. You have done far worse than that. Mr Smyth put up a perfectly reasonable amendment. He offered, in fact, to switch the categories around. You talk about hierarchy, for heavens sake! Spare me. Where do we go from here if we