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Thursday, 12 August 2004
Page: 26565

Senator LUDWIG (5:02 PM) —The Labor opposition will not support the amendments. I am sure Senator Greig did listen to my speech in the second reading debate on this matter, and he is aware of our commitment in relation to the issue of recognition of same-sex relationships. I also briefly want to reiterate that state Labor governments have introduced significant reform in this area. Senator Greig was correct in identifying the Tasmanian Relationships Act 2003, which amended more than 70 statutes to assign a range of rights and/or responsibilities to same-sex and caring partners. I think that really underpins shadow Attorney-General Nicola Roxon's position in relation to this. She has indicated on a number of occasions why she supports an audit of all Commonwealth legislation to go through in a meaningful way, whilst Labor is in government.

You also have to look at the Northern Territory's Law Reform (Gender, Sexuality and De Facto Relationship Act) 2003, which was passed in November 2003. The debates continue in relation to the act in South Australia, the home state of a number of the Democrats, which passed on 25 March 2004 in the House of Assembly. In your home state of Western Australia, Senator Greig, the Acts Amendment (Gay and Lesbian Law Reform) Act 2001 was dealt with. It dealt with 62 statutes and was effective from 1 July 2003. I can continue to make the point, but I do not want to detract from the debate on the other amendments. We have said that Labor in government can and will progress these matters. We have clearly got the runs on the board in relation to all the other states. We do know that the government cannot be persuaded to do it and, therefore, we will be able to do it in government. That is the clear distinction between us and the government on this matter. As I have said, on the matter before us, we will not support any change to the common law understanding as it currently exists.