Page 1760 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008
deliver on that particular legislation. I was proud to deliver the address to the Governor-General on 13 June. But to no avail, as members will recall.
I signed up to this legislation because I believed in it and it gave the ACT the opportunity that we have from time to time to champion something which might show some leadership to the rest of Australia where these sorts of issues are not dealt with well and where discrimination still occurs for people in homosexual relationships. I think it is a matter of great shame that these things are allowed to continue.
But the sense of outrage that I spoke about when I started was stirred again by some of the things that have come out of the federal Labor government, especially when I touch on these following points which really show the gross hypocrisy of Rudd and his crowd on this issue. I have got a great deal of pride—do not get me wrong—in the Rudd government. I think they provide great leadership for this country. It has been like a breath of fresh air and things have been going swimmingly.
One of the reasons he is there and why things are going well is that he has been consistent. It is a great embarrassment to me that he has not been consistent on this issue but I think, in terms of interfering with the right of this Assembly to legislate in accordance with the self-government act, he has been shameful, especially in light of some of the things he has said.
I read some comments that were made in the Senate by Senator Joe Ludwig. He goes through the history of the events which led to the Governor-General disallowing the legislation, and he goes on to say:
Labor are moving to disallow this instrument because we do not believe that Mr Howard should override the ACT laws on this matter. Let me explain why.
Labor acknowledge that it is this parliament—only the Commonwealth parliament—that can make laws about marriage. In fact, in 2004 we did pass a law confirming that marriage was between a man and a woman. Labor supported that view then and are committed to maintaining marriage as a separate and special institution between a man and a woman. The ACT Civil Unions Act does not deal with marriage. It does not compromise, contradict or impinge on that principle. It does not, and could not create same-sex marriages. In fact, in section 5 of the [then] act, it says expressly that a civil union “is different to a marriage”.
And if you look at the bill which is the subject of this debate, the Civil Partnerships Bill 2006, in section 12 it is pretty clear how civil partnerships are entered into:
Two people who have given notice to a civil partnership notary in accordance with section 11 may enter into a civil partnership by making a declaration before the civil partnership notary and at least 1 other witness.
That is not a marriage either. And this is where there has been a disingenuous approach taken by the Rudd government to the law that has been attempted to be passed in this territory. It is not a marriage; it was never a marriage; and it is completely disingenuous to try to create that impression. But it is consistent with that which the religious right has been saying.