Page 5413 - Week 15 - Tuesday, 8 December 2009

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If we lose these gains that have been so difficult to secure, and of which I think this Assembly should be proud, how long will it be before the next opportunity to legislate for legally recognised civil partnership ceremonies presents itself? It is not necessary for us to say that we are now satisfied that the rights of gay and lesbian people are now adequately recognised in our community. We need only say that, at this stage, we will lock in the reforms that we have been able to achieve and we will continue to argue for more.

There are two principal areas of change proposed by this bill. The other amendments largely give effect to the notion that, while a civil partnership entered into by making a declaration will be effective from the date of the declaration, it must first be validated by being registered. Clause 13 of the bill simply sets out a number of transitional provisions to ensure that actions already taken under the act are considered to comply with the new requirements. What this means is that for those couples who have already entered into a civil partnership by way of a ceremony, as provided for by the amendments passed by the Assembly earlier this year, the status of their relationship, at law, will be unchanged.

Mr Speaker, this is an important bill. It reflects the unique and sometimes difficult environment in which this Assembly must operate when it comes to legislating in areas of important social reform. But the agreement that we have reached with the commonwealth is a significant one. It locks in ceremonies and it locks in celebrants legally recognised to conduct those ceremonies. These are significant gains. Ceremonies continue to have real practical legal meaning. With these relatively minor concessions that we need to make as proposed in this bill, I believe we can present our community with a guarantee that that opportunity to recognise a relationship through a ceremony authorised under law will be available for many years to come. For that reason, the government is proposing these amendments. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mrs Dunne) adjourned to the next sitting.

Smoking (Prohibition in Enclosed Public Places) Amendment Bill 2009

Debate resumed from 15 October 2009, on motion by Ms Gallagher:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (10.33): The opposition will be supporting this bill today. The Canberra Liberals do believe that the changes proposed in the bill will actually further reduce the incidence of smoking in our community and hopefully reduce the exposure of workers and other people to environmental or second-hand tobacco smoke. We also believe that the under-age function provisions are a step forward in reducing the incidence of smoking amongst young people.

Mr Speaker, I believe that the ongoing focus of initiatives which seek to reduce smoking is important. Given the significant burden of disease caused directly by smoking, this is something that we should be continually looking at within our

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