Page 1759 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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the ACT to come into line with Tasmania and Victoria. But we are not Tasmania and we are not Victoria. Our population is perhaps more progressive. We have human rights legislation—we have had it for five years—and if it was not for the federals using our territory status against us, we could have more legislation that reflects our values.

To quote Senator Ludwig again:

Because this issue affects only the territory, it should be left to territorians to decide. If self-government in the ACT is to have any meaning at all, it must mean that the ACT legislature can determine policy of this sort.

The centralised power of the Labor Party threatens progressive jurisdictions. The small but powerful groups asserting their moral superiority and ability to dictate other people’s lives will set the agenda at a federal level. We must do something to combat the flow-on effects for jurisdictions like our own. It is really a great pity that the Stanhope government has decided to assist the federal government’s weaselling out of this commitment by withdrawing key parts of the legislation to save the face of its federal counterparts.

Nonetheless, the Greens will be reluctantly supporting the Civil Partnerships Bill before the Assembly. I acknowledge the need for civil partnerships to be available to our constituents as soon as possible. However, I urge the ACT government to maintain the fight for same-sex couples, perhaps by supporting my additional bill when it is tabled. If this government is unwilling to take further action, I can only assume that it is going to wait until there is another Liberal government in the federal parliament when it will again feel bold enough to take up the fight.

MR BERRY (Ginninderra) (1.50 am): I feel a strong sense of outrage at what has occurred in recent days and weeks about the Civil Partnerships Bill and the resulting negotiations between the ACT government and the Rudd Labor government. In 2004, the Labor Party went to the election with a policy to continue our work in updating the ACT’s laws to remove discrimination against people in same-sex relationships. Specifically, we promised to legislate for same-sex relationships. And in 2006 we delivered the Civil Unions Bill that was debated and passed in the Assembly on 11 May.

But it did not accord with John Howard’s view of the world and, in that dark time when Howard and his cohorts were working to divide the Australian community, they seized upon that particular piece of legislation in another divisive act to drive a wedge into the Australian community. After that, of course, I am very happy to see that the Australian community woke up to what Howard and his crowd were doing and threw them and the Prime Minister out of control of the federal parliament.

I recall that, on 8 June, the Assembly took the step of passing a motion to address the Governor-General, a step never before taken, in relation to this matter after Howard acted on our legislation. We had been involved in these things, though not at the same level, in an appeal to the federal parliament when the Andrews bill, another Howard cohort, overturned the Northern Territory’s euthanasia legislation and our right to

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