Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 01 Hansard (Wednesday, 14 December 2016) . . Page.. 183 ..
shortly consider a bill, and it may well be that Victoria becomes the first Australian state or territory to move on this issue. If that happens, this outrageous commonwealth intervention in the democratic rights of territories will be untenable, and it must be removed. This place should decide the laws for the Australian Capital Territory on this issue.
Secondly, it was interesting to hear from the conservatives within the Liberal Party. Mr Parton indicated that he supports marriage equality because he is sick of the debate. I welcome his support; thank you for that. My one little bit of advice would be to probably think of a more positive reason to support this affirming change to the law of Australia than that you are sick of talking about it. Think about perhaps the opportunity to extend to a group of Australians, who to this point have been excluded from this institution, the opportunity to be part of something that so many Australians value very dearly.
When this place legislated for marriage equality and those weddings took place, the sun rose the next day. The only thing that changed was that many people were a lot happier. There were some fantastic family events that enriched the lives of hundreds of Canberrans. That is what changed with that piece of lawmaking in this place, and that would be replicated across this country, not just for thousands and thousands of same-sex couples but for their families and their friends. Once you include that group, Madam Speaker, you are talking about an overwhelming majority of Australians. There are not many Australians now who do not, in their own family or in their broader friendship circle, know someone who is in a same-sex relationship and want to support them to get married. This is something that should happen, and I commend Mr Steel for his motion today.
MS LE COUTEUR (Murrumbidgee) (4.55): Madam Speaker, as you would expect, the Greens will be supporting this motion today, and I am very pleased to support the first motion of my fellow Murrumbidgee member. I also want to congratulate him on his endorsement of much of the progressive Greens agenda which continues to contribute to and improve the progressive, modern city that we have the privilege of living in and representing.
I note that many of the things that Mr Steel talked about have been or will be achieved either through one of the parliamentary agreements—we are now up to the third parliamentary agreement—or through the work of the Greens MLAs. In particular, I note the work of my colleague Mr Rattenbury both as a member of cabinet and as a crossbencher.
The motion raises a number of very important policies that contribute to making Canberra one of the most progressive places in the country, and demonstrate the important role that the Greens have played in the Assembly over two decades. I am really proud that after 20 years of speaking up about various things, the Greens have made a difference. The ACT now has the strongest legislated climate goals in the country, and we have government investment in wetlands, which improves water quality and amenity for local wildlife. We are still the only place in Australia to have allowed same-sex marriages. Admittedly, that did not last. Of course, there is the ban on caged hens and sow stalls. We are also transitioning to a sustainable transport plan