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Monday, 18 November 2002
Page: 6647

Senator BROWN (8:22 PM) —I was inclined to stay in my chair until that last little deception of the Greens' position was put forward by Senator Abetz. He knows better than that, so I will correct him. The Greens are opposed to the gold pass being rorted and support this legislation insofar as that is concerned. There were two cheaper options to having this legislation go through and discriminate against non-married partners of former members of parliament: firstly, to get rid of the gold pass altogether—and the Greens supported that and moved to do that—and, secondly, to get rid of it altogether as far as partners were concerned, and that included husbands and wives. But the government did not see fit to do that. So the argument put forward by Senator Abetz about this being done in the interests of the taxpayer is unmitigated bunkum.

The Greens are not going to back off on the other principle, which may be seen as subsidiary here but it is one of consistency. As a number of speakers have said, right throughout the law of this land de facto partners are now recognised under the law. There has been a meeting of governments to agree to move to eliminating this discrimination, but the first thing we see is the Howard government moving quite deliberately here to keep it built in. We are simply not going to allow that to pass.

Further, the Remuneration Tribunal is also influenced by the circumstances of the day, including who is in the Prime Minister's office. If there is a reference here to the Remuneration Tribunal to try to get rid of this discrimination on the basis of giving an allocation to married partners that does not go to unmarried partners, it is likely to be put to the bottom of the list as far as the Remuneration Tribunal is concerned. I have no faith at all that they would treat it expeditiously.