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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26503

Senator IAN MACDONALD (Minister for Fisheries, Forestry and Conservation) (2:06 PM) —I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

I seek leave to have the second reading speech incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The speech read as follows—


It gives me much pleasure to introduce this Bill.

This Bill is necessary because there is significant community concern about the possible erosion of the institution of marriage.

The Parliament has the opportunity to act quickly to allay these concerns.

The Government has consistently reiterated the fundamental importance of the place of marriage in our society.

It is a central and fundamental institution.

It is vital to the stability of our society and provides the best environment for the raising of children.

The Government has decided to take steps to reinforce the basis of this fundamental institution.

Currently, the Marriage Act 1961 contains no definition of marriage.

It does contain a statement of the legal understanding of marriage in the words that some marriage celebrants must say in solemnising a marriage that: `Marriage, according to law in Australia, is the union of a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others, voluntarily entered into for life.'

The Government believes that this is the understanding of marriage held by the vast majority of Australians and they should form the formal definition of marriage in the Marriage Act.

This Bill will achieve that result.

A related concern held by many people is that there are now some countries that permit same-sex couples to marry.

The amendments to the Marriage Act contained in this Bill will make it absolutely clear that Australia will not recognise same-sex marriages entered into under the laws of another country, whatever country that may be.

As a result of the amendments contained in this Bill same-sex couples will understand that if they go overseas to marry, their marriage, even if valid in the country in which it was solemnised, will not be recognised as valid in Australia.

In summary, this Bill makes clear the Government's commitment to the institution of marriage.

It will provide certainty to all Australians about the meaning of marriage into the future.

Senator Greig —Mr Acting Deputy President, I rise on a point of order. I seek your guidance. Earlier this week I tabled a series of contingency notices. I understand I am now able to move one of those. If my understanding of that is correct, I would seek to do so.

The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT —You are a little late, Senator Greig. The time for that has passed.