Australia still against basic human rights!
"It is not fair and it is ridiculous in the 21st century to have this sort of discrimination in a place like Australia."
Feds quash second gay bill: Action high-handed and arrogant, says Corbell
Wednesday, 7 February 2007
By: Catherine Naylor
The ACT Government's second bid to recognise same-sex relationships has been quashed, with the Federal Government declaring yesterday it would not support the Civil Partnerships Bill.
Federal Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said the Bill, yet to be debated in the ACT Legislative Assembly, was likely to undermine the institution of marriage and he would advise the Governor-General to disallow it.
The Bill's predecessor, the Civil Unions Act, was disallowed in June after the Federal Government denounced it for intruding on marriage, a Commonwealth power.
A shocked Simon Corbell criticised Mr Ruddock for refusing to discuss the Bill with him before making his "high-handed and arrogant" decision.
"We haven't even passed it yet. It hasn't been enacted or debated by the assembly," the ACT Attorney-General said.
"This is the height of arrogance. A complete lack of willingness to engage in any sort of intellectual dialogue."
The Bill aimed to allow same-sex couples to register their relationships and be granted certain rights under territory law immediately, without having to wait years to claim them.
It would not have covered laws relating to federal-based issues such as taxation, superannuation or migration.
"I have had no formal or informal correspondence from the Commonwealth and I have written to Mr Ruddock twice, the second letter as late as today, indicating I am willing to discuss the matter with him," Mr Corbell said.
He said the Civil Partnerships Bill had been the result of six months' work aimed at addressing the Federal Government's concerns that the Civil Unions Act had impeded on marriage.
"We removed all references to marriage and to celebrants and removed any reference to the term 'union' ... the Commonwealth's previous objections were issues very much around language.
"We believed we had taken significant steps to try and address their concerns, but clearly the Commonwealth is not interested in any compromise or discussion on the matter.
"There are absolutely no grounds to overturn this legislation. They haven't even given the assembly the courtesy of debating it."
However, Mr Ruddock disagreed, saying that the legislation was not good enough in its current form to appease the Government's concerns.
In his letter to Mr Corbell, Mr Ruddock noted that while changes had been made, there remained significant similarities between the Civil Partnerships Bill and the disallowed Civil Unions Act
"The revised Bill has not removed the concerns that the Commonwealth had about the Civil Unions Act.
"It remains the Government's opinion that the Civil Partnerships Bill would still in its amended form be likely to undermine the institution of marriage."
Mr Corbell said the ACT Government would not necessarily give in just yet.
"We will consider our options to leave the legislation lying on the table and not debate or pass it, and to instead await the outcome of the next federal election, when hopefully a more sympathetic Labor Government will allow the ACT to enact a law that could be enacted in a state."
Mr Ruddock's decision was supported by the Australian Christian Lobby, whose managing director, Jim Wallace, said the sanctity of marriage had to be maintained as society's model of commitment.
The Catholic Archbishop of Canberra and Goulburn, Mark Coleridge, said if Mr Ruddock was correct in his assessment of the Civil Partnerships Bill, then his move to disallow it was justified.
Activist Yvette Nielsen, who launched lesbian website lemonkind.com in Canberra in June, said the Federal Government's decision was disappointing.
"It is not fair and it is ridiculous in the 21st century to have this sort of discrimination in a place like Australia.
"When they did this last year it was devastating."
"There was a lot of grief in the community. People have worked hard and marched and made so many changes to the legislation to keep them happy. What else can we do?"
Greens senator Bob Brown said Mr Ruddock's move was aimed purely at instilling vote-winning fear in the community. "This is plain prejudice. It cuts straight through the Australian ideal of a fair go."
ACT Greens MLA Deb Foskey was also critical of Mr Ruddock's decision and the motives behind it.
"Philip Ruddock is shoring up the support of the religious right because they are going to need them in the next election. The ACT human rights agenda is obviously conflicting with Howard's right wing agenda."