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Wednesday, 16 October 2002
Page: 5243

Senator MURRAY (11:05 AM) —The Special Minister of State is self-evidently a member of the governing party. This request by the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, Senator Faulkner, in fact results from a unanimous recommendation from the Senate Finance and Public Administration Legislation Committee, which was chaired by a member of the government. In other words, members of your own party take a different view to you, Minister. The committee said at 3.14 on page 25 of its report:

The Committee recommendsthat the definition of spouse be amended so as to be consistent with the definition applying in the Parliamentary Entitlements Act 199. That is, that spouse, in relation to a member, `include[s] a person who is living with the member as the spouse of the member on a genuine domestic basis although not legally married to the member'.

So there is not a uniform view in the government on this. The position of the Australian Democrats is perfectly clear. We oppose the life gold pass provision, for reasons we have put on record extensively elsewhere and today. We have also consistently supported equality under the law and we believe that as far as possible you should be consistent in legislation. There is no contradiction between opposing a provision but saying that if the provision is going to continue to apply it should apply equally.

Make no mistake: the consequence of this would be that someone who is in a loving relationship with a person on a bona fide domestic basis would access these entitlements, whether they are married or not. This parliament and this country—all parliaments and courts in this country—accept the validity, both on an emotional and personal basis, of de facto relationships as much as de jure relationships. I happen to be in a de jure relationship. That is my choice and my attachment. But I certainly do not seek to impose any negative views on those who wish to pursue a de facto relationship on exactly the same basis. So I see no inconsistency.