Page 3572 - Week 12 - Tuesday, 22 October 2013
community support marriage equality. The ACT Labor Party has gone to the last few elections with a clear policy position to legislate for marriage equality, and today we have exercised that policy. In most other areas of policy, the commonwealth and, indeed, other members of this Assembly would accept this mandate. They would listen to the will of the people and they would support, either actively or passively, the passage of those laws. In this respect, I believe time has a way of putting things into perspective and of showing us all that this is, indeed, the right thing to do.
Let us not forget that it was not until 1962 that Indigenous people were given the right to vote in federal elections and 1967 when they were recognised in the constitution. Indeed, it was not until November of 1966 that the commonwealth public service removed the provisions that prevented married women from holding permanent positions in the public service.
I believe the next generations of Australians will not see the question of marriage equality as a vexed issue; they will see it as a simple question of equal rights and they will judge those who have denied marriage equality to many Australians for so long. I would like to express my disappointment that the Canberra Liberals are not supporting the bill today. It is particularly disappointing given the comments made by some opposite through their maiden speeches espousing the advancement of the rights of gays and lesbians in our community. I see that today you will vote against advancing the rights of gay and lesbian people, and I think that is a shame to you all. Today you will continue to vote and support discrimination of gay and lesbian people and to deny them the same freedoms that you enjoy. Today you have personally let them down.
Marriage equality is now in place in nations across our global village. It is in place in states across America. Marriage equality legislation has been introduced in states in our own country. Today we as an Assembly and as a community have the chance to bring into law marriage equality for our great nation and to make laws equal for all in our community.
To conclude, a big thank you for the support of the caucus of this parliament, of this Labor Party. It is an honour to be a part of it. I also thank Mr Rattenbury for his support to bring into law equality and respect for each and every member of our community.
DR BOURKE (Ginninderra) (11.02): I speak to support this bill. In my first speech in this place I asked if we could imagine an Australia without progressive social change. I talked about the reforms begun in South Australia by the Dunstan government—reforms in the fields of Aboriginal land rights, equal opportunities, consumer protection, town planning, the environment and the restructuring of electoral law. I talked about the Whitlam government’s role in building our progressive Australian society, initiating Australia’s first federal legislation on human rights, the environment and heritage. Whitlam laid the foundation of our modern Australian life with the Family Law Act, the Australian Legal Aid Office, the Consumer Affairs Commission, the Racial Discrimination Act, Medibank, the Trade Practices Commission and the Australia Council.