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Transcript of doorstop interview: House of Representatives Alcove, Parliament House, Canberra: 13 June 2006: Commonwealth action to disallow ACT Civil Unions Act.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP

TRANSCRIPT

DOORSTOP INTERVIEW

HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES ALCOVE

PARLIAMENT HOUSE,

CANBERRA

TUESDAY, 13 JUNE 2006

Subject: Commonwealth action to disallow ACT Civil Unions Act

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: The Minister for Territories and myself, this morning met with the

Governor-General, in Executive Council; and as a result of the meeting of Executive Council,

the ACT civil relationships ordinance has been disallowed. During the course of the

afternoon that will be entered into the relevant register, and that means, in effect, that the

legislative amendments introduced to establish civil, a civil arrangement for same-sex parties

and others in the ACT, will no longer be law. That's the effect of the disallowance.

We did receive advice from the Governor-General that he had been attended on by the

Speaker. He conveyed to us the expression of interest from the Australian Capital Territory

for some amendments to their ordinance, and we considered those matters, and Executive

Council resolved that the more appropriate course was to disallow the measure.

If the ACT has in mind further amendments, they can come back to the Commonwealth with

those amendments. But we've made it clear that a measure which provocatively, as I have

said before, and deliberately intended to make the ACT arrangements as close as possible to

marriage; when the marriage power is clearly vested in the Commonwealth, and to do so, by

not only reference to it having all the like characteristics of a marriage in terms of the ACT

law, providing as it did for civil celebrants, for a ceremony; and adopting other

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characteristics of marriage, was quite, quite provocative, and the decision that has been taken

was quite appropriate. So, in effect, the ploy of bringing forward the date of operation, and

endeavouring to provide for registration of, of civil celebrants, has failed.

JOURNALIST: Minister, did Senator Humphries plea for a compromise with you cut any ice

at all?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Well, let me just make the point that Senator Humphries, I gather,

while we were at, at Executive Council, spoke on the matter in the party room, and the Prime

Minister replied fully. I think it's important for the people of the ACT to be aware that there

are issues that remain the responsibility of the Commonwealth, and marriage is one of those

issues. And while it, it is clearer and easier to avoid possible litigation about what may or

may not be meant by marriage and related matters; the measure we have adopted was clean-cut; it put the matter to the end once and for all. And it's important to understand that we

have no quarrel with the Territories legislating in those areas in which it has responsibility

and we accept the decisions that they make, supported by their electorate; except when they

provocatively and deliberately seek to intrude into areas for which they have no

responsibility.

JOURNALIST: Minister, isn't it also provocative if you're at Yarralumla while one of your

own is trying to make the plea to the party room?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Not at all. The point I would make is that you meet at the time

convenient for Executive Council. Eleven o'clock was convenient. The ACT [Government]

had already visited the Governor-General this morning; and, the Prime Minister had made it

clear that the decision would be taken. But it was inappropriate to mention in advance when

that might occur. It's a matter of protocol that these matters are done at the,

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone (02) 6277 7300  Fax (02) 6273 4102 w w w.law.gov.au / ag

at the convenience of Executive Council, and we had leave from the party room in

order to do so.

JOURNALIST: Mr Ruddock, it sounded like you...

ADVISER: Attorney, that’s a division...

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: It's a division? Alright.

JOURNALIST: Mr Ruddock, you just said briefly that the ACT Government had put

some possible amendments forward. Is that correct?

ATTORNEY-GENERAL: No, they haven't, no. What I have said is that if they have

amendments, and they want them to be considered, they should put them to us.

Okay? I'll have to go. [Division bells ringing]

ENDS