Page 1768 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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We went to an election promising to achieve legal equality for gay and lesbian relationships and we have been prevented from keeping that promise. We have not been able to carry through with the mandate that we have from the people of the ACT. We tried our best; we tried hard. At the end of the day, we took a judgement that we should salvage what we could—that we should take this significant step forward in relation to recognising gay and lesbian relationships, allowing the celebration: extending it symbolically for the state, represented by the ACT government, for gay and lesbian relationships.

We have done our best. To the extent that we have fallen short, I regret that enormously. I do again express my enormous regret and some anger—indeed, deep frustration—that the current commonwealth government, as did its predecessor, has shown no respect for the democratic rights of the people of the ACT. They treat and regard us as second-class citizens in their attitude to this particular matter. There was no need for the commonwealth to intervene. We have constitutional authority under the self-government act to legislate in relation to all relationships other than marriage; that is clear. We have a constitutional right and power to legislate in relation to these relationships.

Secondly, it remains a matter of continuing concern to me and to my colleagues within the government that, through the diminished status of the Civil Partnership Bill which we will pass today, we have not allowed the fundamental human rights of a group within our community to be fully recognised. That is a matter which I and my colleagues will continue to agitate, to address.

We will not stop here. I think we have been thwarted. I must say, as Mr Berry has indicated, that a second chance or another chance to now achieve the removal of that last level of discrimination perhaps will be hard to grasp. I am not quite sure how and when it will come. It perhaps may come only when a state or a leader in a state or a government in one of the states finds the gumption to legislate a genuine civil partnership or civil union regime. And then, of course, the dam will break. I regret that it will not happen here today in this jurisdiction, but I believe that it will happen.

Mr Stefaniak earlier mentioned that the test of any legislation or good legislation is whether it will survive the test of time. I know that this legislation will not survive the test of time. I do not want it to. I want it to be amended. I want it to be amended to achieve the full level of legal equality that we all wish for here within this territory. So I hope this legislation fails, and I hope it fails sooner rather than later. But the decision that we have taken is a pragmatic decision. We have achieved what we could. We have taken all that we believe it was open for us to achieve in the face of the opposition now of two successive commonwealth governments.

MS MacDONALD (Brindabella) (2.28 am): I do not intend to delay the Assembly by speaking for long. I had not intended speaking at all, but after listening to Dr Foskey and Mr Mulcahy I feel that it is important to stand and make these comments.

I have to say that I do not agree in the least with the position that Dr Foskey put. I, too, am disappointed with the outcome tonight because I think we should have been able

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