Page 1770 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008
both a positive and a negative one, and I am going to close my speech by talking about what is being achieved and the significance of it. But tonight I want to speak firstly of three groups: the hypocrites, the deniers and the apologists.
First, the hypocrites. These are those people, including, I regret to say, our Labor colleagues who, in opposition, said one thing and in government said another—who, in opposition, stood up for this territory and its right to legislate as it saw fit but who in government turned their backs on those same principles that they espoused so strongly. They should stand condemned for the approach they have adopted.
Then, of course, there are the deniers. These are the people who refuse to accept that people in same-sex relationships should be accepted as equal and should be given equal status before the law. We have seen them in all their glory in recent days with absurd and ludicrous suggestions about where legislation such as this will lead. They are the people who fail to understand that all humans are indeed created equal and are entitled to equality under the law.
But the ones for whom I have perhaps greatest scorn of all are the apologists—those who say, “We support removal of discrimination,” but do not stand up for this place to make laws to do just that—the apologists, the people who are not true democrats, who say it is important for this place to make laws but it is all right for some of them to be overturned. They are apologists because they confuse the policy with the principle. They think that the policy disagreement is more important and the intervention is warranted. They do not believe in the principle that this place is entitled to make laws to govern its affairs. Those are the people that I perhaps have the most scorn for, because they are us—some of us in this place.
It has never been suggested by the commonwealth government that there is any constitutional question at play. It has never been suggested. And I would put it to anyone who does make that point that the way to resolve the constitutional question is with the constitutional umpire—the High Court. Any commonwealth government that was confident of its position on this question would not be afraid to have such questions considered by that umpire. Regrettably, the hypocrites knew that they did not have the strength of that position.
The changes that are being proposed by the government are the result of significant compromise on the part of the territory. They are also the result of a complete refusal by the commonwealth to accept any.
I will respond briefly to one issue raised by Mr Mulcahy. He said that we have been deliberately provocative and he raised the question of 16-year-olds being able to enter into same-sex civil partnerships. Of course, Mr Mulcahy should perhaps reflect on the fact that the commonwealth Marriage Act provides for 16-year-olds to marry. Is that immoral? Is that deliberately provocative? He should question his arguments in that regard.
But tonight I want to turn to what is being achieved because my Labor colleagues and those in this place who will vote for this legislation should still celebrate an achievement. The achievement is that same-sex couples will now be recognised under