Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2008 Week 05 Hansard (Thursday, 8 May 2008) . . Page.. 1766 ..
I have gone on at length about the issue of division of powers and entitlements. I also note the keen interest in utilising the Human Rights Act in the context of this debate. I noted the Attorney-General’s remarks when he said that the directly elected representatives of the people of the Australian Capital Territory have attempted to maximise the opportunity for ACT citizens to enjoy this right—he meant rights supposedly derived from the ACT Human Rights Act—but then went on to say that they had been restricted in their attempt to do so by the archaic restrictions placed on them by the commonwealth at the time of self-government.
It should not come as a surprise to Mr Corbell that the ACT is in fact governed under the self-government act. That is the act from which the ACT government derives its power, not the Human Rights Act. I do not think that it is valid to argue that it is an archaic piece of legislation. It sets—just as the constitution does for the commonwealth government or the Australian government and the states—the legislative boundaries under which we in this territory operate.
As I have said, this issue has become highly politicised. I believe that there would be very few people who would oppose same-sex couples having a range of legal rights in relation to things such as superannuation. And there are a string of other amendments that have been planned federally, as there are within this bill. There should not be discrimination of same-sex couples—I have no tolerance of that, or anybody—based on their sexual preference.
I will support this bill, but I have some criticisms of the way in which this matter has been managed. I understand the Chief Minister’s absolute frustration with his federal colleague. I will give them at least credit that the venom that they—and you, Mr Speaker—directed against former Prime Minister Howard seems to be fairly equally matched now in relation to Mr Rudd, who is perceived to be going to deliver various outcomes. That is where I will leave my remarks. I will be voting for the bill.
MR STANHOPE (Ginninderra—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Business and Economic Development, Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Minister for the Environment, Water and Climate Change, Minister for the Arts) (2.19 am): I do not wish to delay the Assembly and my colleagues unnecessarily. I support the comments that have been made by my colleagues within the government in relation to this issue.
I see and have always perceived what it is that we have sought to achieve in relation to the removal of discriminations against the gay and lesbian people within the ACT as an issue of fundamental human rights and the right to equality under the law of all peoples within the Australian Capital Territory. That is what I and my government have sought to achieve in government in relation to this particular issue and other issues of discrimination.
We have, over the last five or six years, embarked on a process or project of removing all legislative discrimination within the Australian Capital Territory that previously existed in relation to the lives of gay and lesbian people and couples within the territory. It was our hope that, through this bill in its original construction, we would remove the last vestige of legislative discrimination against gay and lesbian couples in