Jun 28, 2001

Adjournment: Superannutaion: Same Sex Couples

ADJOURNMENT Superannuation: Same-Sex Couples

28 June 2001

Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (3.26 a.m.)—I wish this morning to raise the need for support for my private member’s bill, the Superannuation (Entitlements of same-sex couples) Bill 2001. I want to raise the three positions being held by the political forces in this parliament and in this country.

The first position is that held by the government, and that is due to the Prime Minister. It is not necessarily due to the members of his party and the National Party; it is because the Prime Minister is opposed to reform. He is opposed to equal rights for same-sex couples, and that is why the superannuation entitlements for same-sex couples continue to be discriminatory. The second position is that of the Australian Labor Party. The Australian Labor Party supports my private member’s bill and supports the position that, given that superannuation is compulsory and universal, the benefits of superannuation should also be universal, regardless of sexual preference. After all, we are talking about the economic contribution that workers make towards their retirement, and surely people’s sexual preference should not come into the benefits of superannuation.

The third position is that held by the Australian Democrats. The Australian Democrats are a party which are about posturing and not delivering results. We have seen examples of that in the last fortnight. Firstly, in the legislation which was designed to increase the wages of the Governor-General to account for the fact that in future his wages will be taxed, they moved a same-sex couples superannuation amendment to that bill. The fact is that the incoming Governor-General, Archbishop Hollingworth, is not someone who would benefit from same-sex superannuation rights. Therefore, this amendment was simply about posturing. The Labor Party rejected it (a) because we are not about posturing but about increasing results, and (b) because we believe that this Governor-General—and I am sure he will do a fine job, and I look forward to his swearing in tomorrow—will be Australia’s last. It is inevitable that Australia will become a republic and we will have a President, and therefore that legislation is very time limited.

Tonight in the debate in the Senate we saw again, with regard to superannuation entitlements of politicians—the restriction on benefits for incoming politicians after this term so that they will only receive benefits upon reaching the age of 55—an amendment from the Australian Democrats concerning superannuation for same-sex couples, which, if carried, would have meant that the only people in Australia who would have achieved same-sex superannuation rights would have been members of the House of Representatives and members of the Senate. We in the Australian Labor Party believe in reform, justice and equality, but we believe in equality across the board. We believe that, whether you are a politician, a miner or a teacher, you should receive equal rights for your superannuation regardless of your sexual preference. We should not have a position of privilege, which is the basis of the current superannuation discrimination, whereby heterosexual couples get rights that gay and lesbian couples do not. We believe that you do not solve a discriminatory position by introducing discriminatory reforms.

That is why we moved the bill which stands in my name on the House of Representatives Notice Paper and why we voted against the Democrat amendment in the Senate tonight. We moved an amendment as follows:

Whether same sex superannuation rights (which have received the support of the Select Committee on Superannuation and Financial Services in a report in April 2000) should be available to members of the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme before being applicable to all in the community who qualify under provisions relating to bona fide relationships, regardless of sexual preference”.

That is what real reform is about—not about singling out sections of the community. That is why the Australian Labor Party is the party that stands for real reform in this area and that is why Senator Brian Greig—who is hypocritical with regard to his position on social security reform, where he did not support reform—is out of touch on this issue. (Time expired)