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Transcript of doorstop interview: Parliament House, Canberra: 14 June 2006: ACT Civil Unions.

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Nicola Roxon MP Shadow Attorney-General


Transcript of Doorstop Interview, Parliament House, Canberra 14 June 2006

Subject: ACT Civil Unions E&OE

ROXON: Good morning. I wanted to talk to you this morning about the civil unions legislation in the ACT.

The Labor Caucus made a decision last night that we will move to disallow Mr Howard’s actions in this matter.

We believe that the Marriage Act should be between a man and a woman. Obviously we made this decision as a parliament several years ago. But we don’t believe that the ACT legislation in any way offends the Marriage Act. We think Mr Howard should stop interfering in the ACT legislative process.

I have to say, if Gary Humphries - a former Chief Minister - if his previous life before being elected to Parliament means anything, he also must vote with us on this matter.

Clearly, we are concerned that the ACT people elected a Labor Government. This was part of their platform. They have passed a law and Mr Howard is using this extraordinary process to interfere in their democratic rights.

We don’t support that and we’ll be moving a disallowance in the Senate as soon as we are able to do that.

Journalist: Has the ACT been deliberately provocative in the way it has worded this legislation?

ROXON: I don’t think so. But really this is a matter for the states and

territories. Look at Tasmania, for example, where they have had a registration system in place for several years. No one has interfered in that. The ACT has taken a different option.

There are a range of different ways that same sex couples can be recognised and have legal entitlements and the sort of status in the community they are seeking. The ACT has gone through their process. They are entitled to do that.

If we were designing a system of our own we’d look at all those options. I am actually undertaking consultations for a national system. We are not in anyway tied to this option. But the ACT has to be able to make laws for themselves, otherwise they are not a self-governing territory.

JOURNALIST: Labor doesn’t think that the legislation the ACT passed equates civil unions with marriage?

ROXON: No. It doesn’t at all. It makes that expressly clear. It does mean that under territory law people will be able to get the same rights and entitlements: for example, inheritance laws, not paying stamp duty if you transfer property between partners. That is the sort of thing. Long term committed relationships, people in those relationships, should be able to have those rights.

But if you were to equate it with marriage all of the other plethora of [Commonwealth] entitlements would have to go with it. The ACT doesn’t have any powers to do that - they can’t affect Commonwealth laws. That is an issue

that this Parliament will have to deal with in the future. We don’t think the ACT laws have any impact on that.

JOURNALIST: Is the PM being homophobic or trying to appeal to homophobic people?

ROXON: You would have to ask the Prime Minister that. It is quite unnecessary for him to interfere in this way. We believe that caring and loving, committed relationships between two adults should be able to be recognised in some appropriate way. We don’t believe marriage is the appropriate way, but there are many other options. Tasmania has taken one, the ACT has taken another and the states and territories should be allowed to do that.

JOURNALIST: Gary Humphries is one Senator you said should vote against it. Are there any other Coalition members that Labor has in its sights to lobby on this?

ROXON: Any member of the Liberal Party Room or National Party Room who have been committed to removal of discrimination do have to think seriously about whether they can vote with the Prime Minister on this. It is a

way of removing discriminatory barriers under territory law. There are a number of people on the record on the Coalition side who should be thinking seriously about whether they can really vote for this.

Thank you.

Wednesday, 14 June 2006

For more information call Jacob Varghese: 0417 108 362 or 02 6277 4767