Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 November 2017) . . Page.. 5290 ..
In either case, it is critical that we affirm the ACT government’s position in our submission to the Senate select committee on the exposure draft of the bill, which recognised that the ACT has strong protections against discrimination already in place, and emphasised the ACT’s support for marriage equality law reform as a process of removing barriers to the participation of LGBTIQ people within their communities, not adding discrimination.
This week we have seen historic steps taken in the Senate. Those who will be remembered for the marriage equality reforms that we have seen are those who have fought against discrimination in the law for so many years: Jon Stanhope, Katy Gallagher, Simon Corbell, Andrew Barr, Senator Penny Wong, opposition leader Bill Shorten, Dean Smith, Bob Brown and others.
The Prime Minister is not one of those people. He did not campaign actively for marriage equality. But he must now show leadership to actively oppose any attempts to impose discrimination and to undermine the rights of Canberrans, and so must the federal parliament in the remaining debate, and on the future of discrimination law following the review that the commonwealth government is putting in place.
All leaders of this place must take this opportunity to make it clear to the federal parliament that no step should be undertaken that would undermine the ACT’s anti-discrimination framework, so that all Canberrans have the same dignity and status under law as everyone else.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (5.26): The opposition is not surprised that we have this motion before the Assembly today. This is very similar to numerous other motions that we have debated in this place before. It is, of course, a commonwealth issue, which is why, funnily enough, here in the Assembly we are calling on the commonwealth parliament to do something. Usually we would move motions that are within our purview, within our responsibility and within our control, but here is a member of the Assembly asking for the ACT Assembly to request that the commonwealth parliament do something. I would have a bit more respect for this motion if it called on MPs or senators rather than the parliament as whole. But that is a nuance.
The issue itself is a federal issue. Whilst I appreciate that this is of utmost importance to numerous members here, it is still a commonwealth issue. The postal survey has been and gone. There was a phenomenal turnout for that postal survey. Despite the criticism many people had of that process, it turned out to have an extraordinary participation rate, with some 80 per cent of Australians choosing to participate. The result that has come in is beyond doubt, both here in the territory and nationally. I do not think anybody could argue that there is not a will amongst the majority of Australians to go ahead with this legislation. There are still many millions of Australians that do not agree with the voted course of action, and there are tens of thousands of people in Canberra that do not agree with the outcome. However, it is going to happen and I think the vast majority of Australians accept that.