Page 2756 - Week 09 - Thursday, 8 August 2013

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the elected body holds with directorates, the very effective Aboriginal justice agreement and the close-the-gap agenda. The report notes several highlights, including the need for continuing collaborative, cooperative and constructive partnerships.

Compared to the national averages, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans are better educated, more likely to have a job, be better paid and more likely to own their own home. However, the gaps between Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans and the Canberra average are closing and opening in different areas.

For example, the report notes that from 2006 to 2011 the gap in the unemployment rate in the ACT decreased but the labour force participation gap increased. In post-school qualifications, the gap decreased in the ACT. In year 12 or equivalent attainment from 2006 to 2011, the gap closed by over four per cent, as noted by the minister, and we are well on target to closing this gap by 2020. This is great news and I also commend the range of initiatives in this year’s budget assisting Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Canberrans to achieve their aspirations.

Our progress to close the gap in the ACT detailed in this report is noteworthy. It is one part of the whole reconciliation effort to build a nation, an Australia without shame, embarrassment or the anger of dispossession.

Same-sex marriage—legal recognition

Discussion of matter of public importance

MR ASSISTANT SPEAKER (Mr Gentleman): Madam Speaker has received letters from Ms Berry, Dr Bourke, Mr Coe, Mr Doszpot, Mr Gentleman, Mr Hanson, Mrs Jones, Ms Lawder, Ms Porter and Mr Smyth proposing that matters of public importance be submitted to the Assembly. In accordance with standing order 79, Madam Speaker has determined that the matter proposed by Dr Bourke be submitted to the Assembly, namely:

The importance of legally recognising same-sex relationships in the Canberra community.

DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (4.27): Thank you, Mr Assistant Speaker, for the opportunity to talk about one of the fundamental recognitions in our society—the recognition of a relationship between two loving adults who are committed to sharing their lives with each other in the long term.

If those two people happen to be male and female then they can formally have that relationship recognised as a “marriage” under the commonwealth Marriage Act 1961. If, on the other hand, those two people happen to be two men, or two women, the state denies them the right to have that relationship formally recognised as a “marriage”.

A same-sex couple are treated the same way as a married couple for the purposes of, for example, social security, access to housing or in proceedings in the Family Court in relation to children. So what is it then that makes it acceptable for us to deny a same-sex couple the formal recognition of their relationship by allowing them to marry?

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