Page 1752 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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Parliament has actually moved on in the last two years. The federal government is now enacting antidiscrimination laws which we support and have been supporting for some time. We in the territory have enacted a number of antidiscrimination laws. If a registration scheme had been set up two years ago some legal rights would have flowed that were not available then. Some legal rights will still flow from registration, although it may still take a little bit of time to get through federal parliament.

The legislation does seem to do as is required by the federal Attorney-General. It does not seem to us to be inconsistent with the Marriage Act. The amendments do, on the surface, seem to set up effectively a registration scheme. There are a couple of differences, I think. I am not quite sure if the Tasmanian scheme actually allows for a ceremony in the Registrar-General’s office. I am not quite sure if that point is there or not, and it does not really matter. I gather that under the registration scheme in Tasmania and, I gather, in other states, if people want a ceremony they can have a ceremony. Indeed, they are entitled to do so. If that is a sticking point, it is not mandated in this particular bill. It is not mandated in the Tasmanian or other acts. That sticking point seems to have been overcome in this particular bill.

Again, I am not going to be definitive in any of this, simply because I have not had the time to cross-reference and check all of this, but from my initial glance it seems that you are setting up a registration scheme. It does seem to be, on the surface, quite consistent with what has gone on before in other states. You do not seem—at this stage, anyway—to have caused any likely problems with contravening an existing federal act, although I suppose time will tell.

That does, I think, highlight the problem that we are passing this blind to a certain extent because we have not had the time to go through it in any detail. So we are taking it with an element of trust, and I do not really think that is a satisfactory situation. I cannot really see why. This issue has been around now for several years—several years of your own making. You could have got it right to start with. You could have taken steps to do something like this even after the Howard government had problems with it. You have only done it a second time round because the Rudd government obviously had similar problems. You could have ensured that people who want to make a public commitment to their loving relationship, regardless of their sexual orientation, and to put that on the record could have had that recognition much earlier than will occur now.

You seem to have a bill which should be acceptable to most people in the community, and that I think is an important step. It is important to pass good legislation. It is important to pass fair legislation. The majority of the community will usually see the relevance of and the necessity for good and fair legislation and they will say: “Yes, that is something we can support. We think that is a reasonable idea. We give it a tick in the box.”

The test of good legislation is that it stands the test of time. Earlier in the debate I mentioned something that Dave Rugendyke did that stood the test of time which was opposed at the time. There was a lot of controversy about it, but it was seen to be sensible legislation. So we will see what happens with this legislation in terms of the test of time.

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