Page 4792 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 11 November 2009

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Members rising in their places—

MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: I thank members.

Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed.

MR CORBELL: As I was saying, I was absolutely stunned to see the shadow attorney-general, having had the benefit of this detailed opinion from Gageler SC and Jackson QC stating that there is no question as to the constitutionality of same-sex civil partnership ceremonies, come into this place and dismiss it out of hand without any contrary evidence whatsoever. What an intellectually bereft position for the Liberal Party to adopt in this debate: to use as their main argument against this bill that it offends the Marriage Act; to have an opinion from two of the most eminent constitutional lawyers in the country, one of whom is now the commonwealth Solicitor-General, saying it does not offend the Marriage Act, and then just to dismiss that out of hand without any other argument, without any other evidence. What a morally bereft position, let alone an intellectually bereft position.

I urge members to read this opinion again. The summary, which is, of course, brief and concise, says it all:

For the reasons we have given, we consider that the Bill, if enacted, would be:

consistent with the Act—

that is, the Marriage Act—

and valid to the extent that it would provide for the entering into of a civil partnership between a man and a man or between a woman and a woman;

There would be no infringing of the Marriage Act whatsoever. What the Liberal Party’s position really discloses is the fact that they are prepared to perpetuate discrimination against same-sex couples in this city and refuse them the legal recognition of their relationships that they are entitled to, under not only this law but the constitution, as is consistent with this opinion.

This amendment clarifies the constitutional position and ensures that it does not impinge on the Marriage Act by excluding heterosexual couples from being able to access a ceremony under this act.

MRS DUNNE (Ginninderra) (11.03): The Liberal Party will be opposing this clause for a variety of reasons, the first of which is that it creates another level of discrimination in specifically excluding entire classes of people. For as long as this matter has been dealt with in this place, there has been a discussion about the desire to remove discrimination. It is interesting to hear the attorney today turn that around and say that this is discrimination which is okay.

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