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Monday, 10 November 2008
Page: 1


Senator BRANDIS (12:37 PM) —Can I just indicate that, as I made clear at the time of the second reading debate, this bill has the opposition’s support. The opposition does not share the views expressed by Senator Fielding in the contribution which he has just made. The opposition does not regard the bill as an attack on the institution of marriage and we note that no amendment to the Marriage Act is contemplated by it.

The bill does two things, both of which have the opposition’s support. First, it brings de facto relationships within the jurisdiction of the Family Court. That is a practical law reform measure which was actually initiated during the previous government, by the former Attorney-General, Mr Ruddock. Second, the bill enshrines the principle of the equality of treatment of same-sex couples and de facto heterosexual couples. That proposition, for reasons I and others have explained before, also has the opposition’s wholehearted support.

Not only does this bill not undermine marriage but, by maintaining a clear and sharp distinction between marriage and de facto relationships, in fact the bill reinforces the unique status of marriage, to which the opposition is wholeheartedly committed.

Question agreed to.