Page 1772 - Week 05 - Thursday, 8 May 2008

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In relation to registration, new provisions in division 2.3 will permit any two adults, regardless of their sex, to apply to the Registrar-General for registration of their relationship as a civil partnership. They must each submit a statutory declaration setting out information that establishes their eligibility. There is an additional power for the Registrar-General to require applicants to provide further information.

Amendments to clause 14 improve the operation of the provisions for termination. It will be possible to stay the otherwise automatic termination of a partnership 12 months after a termination notice is given if there is an application before the court in relation to the effectiveness of the notice.

In relation to ceremonies, regrettably, and as members would be aware, it has been necessary to remove all mention of ceremony from the bill. Because of that the provisions relating to civil partnerships notaries have also been removed.

In relation to partnerships in other jurisdictions, at this stage equivalents to civil partnerships in foreign countries will not be recognised in the ACT. Where both parties to a proposed civil partnership are not ACT residents, they will not be able to avail themselves of our laws and vice versa if two ACT residents go interstate. This amendment is again in response to commonwealth concerns.

What we have left open, however, is our ability in the ACT to recognise as civil partnerships relationships under corresponding Australian laws such as those providing for registered deeds of relationship in Tasmania and registerable relationships in Victoria.

Finally, we are introducing consequential amendments to a range of other acts and regulations. For the most part the amendments are technical in nature, ensuring that people in civil partnerships are treated in the same way as those in a marriage or another kind of domestic partnership. Schedule 1 to the bill is replaced by a much more comprehensive schedule, picking up the majority of the consequential provisions that were previously incorporated in the ACT’s Civil Unions Act 2006.

Many of the amendments ensure that legislation making reference to a marriage or to a spouse also refers to a civil partnership or a person in a civil partnership. Of course, the Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Act 1997 and its regulations are amended to include substantive provisions about the particulars of registration and termination of a civil partnership to be included in the register. I commend the amendments to the Assembly.

Amendments agreed to.

Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.

Bill, as amended, agreed to.

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