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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 November 2017) . . Page.. 5297 ..

In discussing the issue of voluntary assisted dying, in October, it was clear that some members of our Assembly may not be entirely convinced that Canberra’s laws should necessarily reflect Canberra’s values. But this is an opportunity for all in this chamber to endorse the principle of self-government. So I call on all members of the Assembly to join the government in endorsing the view that our community should remain inclusive and, whatever the legal mechanism, there is no support for winding back our strong anti-discrimination laws.

Eighty-two per cent of Canberrans participated in the postal survey. Seventy-four per cent of the people who responded endorsed marriage equality. Anyone who joined in the Braddon Street party that day will be left in no doubt that Canberra voted to show its support for equality and to promote inclusion. This motion will vocally and enthusiastically communicate Canberra’s support for inclusion to the federal parliament as it works to make marriage equality a reality. I commend the motion to the Assembly.

MR STEEL (Murrumbidgee) (5.54), in reply: This chamber is well within its rights to stand up against any ill-considered attempts at amendments that seek to water down our ACT Discrimination Act. In the process of writing my speech on this motion yesterday I broke for dinner. At the local takeaway I picked up the Canberra CityNews. I found a great article from former MLA Michael Moore, who really has echoed my views on this issue very eloquently. I thought I would read out some of it for members. His article is titled, “Time for Zed to stand up to end discrimination.” Mr Moore says:

… Zed Seselja is part of the team of ultra-conservatives who are undermining the recent vote and undermining the democratic stance taken against discrimination.

He goes on to say:

This is a rear-guard action. No amount of pretence about increased protections for religious freedom will be able to hide their attempt to discriminate against people who are different from themselves.

Their actions are about increasing discrimination when voters made their intention very clear that discrimination, even on the issue of marriage, is simply unacceptable.

I particularly want to note Mr Moore’s comment that:

Canberrans can also be proud of the leadership taken by our local ACT government and the majority of Assembly members.

Senator Seselja needs to stand up against discrimination and so do the Canberra Liberals, and particularly his mentee, Mr Coe. Mr Moore concluded his article by stating:

Senator Seselja may well disagree with the outcome of the vote. But there is a higher-order issue that he should now recognise—the majority outcome is clear and he should be taking all actions appropriate to see that the intent of ending discrimination is delivered.

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