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Thursday, 20 September 2007
Page: 270

Senator NETTLE (9:21 PM) —I seek leave to incorporate my remarks.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—

Justice Kirby is without doubt a great Australian.

In 2002, in front of a crowd of 35,000 at the Sydney Gay Games, Kirby declared:

“The movement for equality is unstoppable. Its message will eventually reach the four corners of the world.”

Well, one might now be forgiven for assuming that Justice Kirby’s position is the dissenting opinion.

Since that time, the Howard government has been allowed to continue its relentless attacks on full equality for the gay and lesbian community.

Now, Justice Kirby has asked the Government, in representing the Australian citizens who he has served in our highest judicial appointment for over 10 years, to extend to him and his family a most basic right.

A right which, were his partner of over 38 years a female, they would be granted automatically.

The Greens will move an amendment that will, as it relates to his pension, grant Justice Kirby’s family the respect and recognition it deserves. This is an opportunity to take a step towards full equality for all Australians. An opportunity for which there is no excuse to avoid. The Greens are providing this opportunity.

The gay and lesbian community has experienced long years of exclusion, and under the Howard government this has been further entrenched.

The Greens amendment is based on the principle of inclusion.

Other opposition parties have recognised that Justice Kirby’s family should not be denied equality because his life-long partner is male.

But The Greens recognise that to provide for full equality, there must be a genuine spirit of inclusion within the legislation that comes from Parliament.

Families must not be denied full equality on the basis of the private sexual nature of the relationship.

Families must not be denied full equality on the basis of who performs household duties.

Families must not be denied full equality on the basis of the lack of a statutory declaration declaring they are a family.

Families must not be denied full equality based on the ownership and acquisition of property.

Families must not be denied full equality based on their reputation and public aspects of their relationship.

Amendments put forward by the opposition and the democrats, include provisions such as these.

I’d like to ask Senators a question. Do you suspect Justice Kirby of attempting to defraud the Australian people? And beyond that do you suspect that those worthy of our highest judicial appointment will ever attempt to defraud the Australian people? If no, then on what basis are these exclusions justified?

I’d like to extend to Justice Kirby and his family—his life long partner—on behalf of the Australian Greens a thank you for all the great work he continues to do on the High Court.

Justice Kirby asked in 2002 that we “Be sure that, in the end, inclusion will replace exclusion”. The Australian Greens continue to answer that call.