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Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Page: 9092

Senator RICE (Victoria) (19:27): We will also be opposing this amendment. Senator Fawcett, I appreciate your explanation of why you feel this is necessary, but nonetheless what this is doing is allowing authorised officers to discriminate. The whole point of the authorised officers, as you have explained—and Senator Pratt and I were there when we had a discussion—was to have authorised officers so there was an alternative to chaplains and, if chaplains did not want to solemnise a marriage between LGBTI people, there would be somebody else who would be able to. It may be that the intent of what you are putting here is that you can choose the authorised officer that happens to suit, but what it means is that it gives the opportunity for any authorised officer to be able to not solemnise a marriage. That goes against the full intent of the whole concept of having authorised officers: that they are there performing a service just like a civil celebrant who is not in a Defence Force situation. So, as an authorised officer, it's their responsibility to solemnise marriages that are legal according to the laws of the land, without discrimination.