Jun 17, 2004

Marriage Legislation amendment Bill 2004: consideration in Detail

MARRIAGE LEGISLATION AMENDMENT BILL 2004: Consideration in Detail


17 June 2004


Mr ALBANESE (Grayndler) (12.23 p.m.) —I move:

Page 4, after line 22, at the end of the Bill add:

Schedule 3—Amendment of the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993

1 Subsection 10(1) (definition of dependant)

Repeal the definition, substitute:

dependant, in relation to a person, includes the spouse, de facto partner, and any child of the person or of the person’s spouse or de facto partner.

2 Subsection 10(1) (definition of spouse)

Repeal the definition.

3 Subsection 10(1)

Insert:

de facto partner, in relation to a person, means a person who, whether or not the same gender as the person, lives with the person on a genuine domestic basis as a partner of the person.

4 At the end of subsection 52(2)

Add:

(i)not to discriminate, in relation to a beneficiary, on the basis of race, colour, sex, sexual preference, transgender status, marital status, family responsibilities, religion, political opinion or social origin.

This is now the 23rd occasion on which I have tried through this House to achieve equal entitlements for same-sex couples with regard to superannuation. When the Prime Minister made his announcement about this latest wedge tactic with his minister who specialises in these tactics and specialises in vilifying the most vulnerable people in our community, he said that there would be changes made to superannuation to allow for people who were interdependent to gain access to superannuation benefits. The Labor Party has had a bill before this House since 1998 which would have achieved this reform. This bill, the provisions of which I have included in this amendment, has the support of the superannuation industry, the support of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and other equal rights groups, the support of the ACTU and the support of the Association of Certified Practising Accountants.

HREOC had a report into this issue in the case of Greg Brown, whose partner, Robert Corva, died. He had worked for the defence department. Mr Brown went to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, went through the bureaucracy and went all the way to HREOC. In his finding, Commissioner Sidoti found that this was discrimination but it was legal discrimination. This is 2004. What sort of society and what sort of parliament accept the situation that legislation can be described as legal discrimination? This amendment seeks to remove it immediately. It has the support of the private sector. The Body Shop conducted a campaign under the theme `Same Sex, Same Rights’ for which they got petitions signed supporting my bill. That reflected the community’s support to remove this area of discrimination.

The government has spoken about interdependency. But that will still leave discrimination, because same-sex couples will be required to prove financial and emotional interdependence and they will also be excluded from some of the benefits of superannuation, such as the spouse contribution rebate. Why has the government gone down this path? It used the example of elderly sisters who are dependent upon each other. That is a legitimate issue and a legitimate area of reform, but it is not the same as reform in the area of relationships. The relationship between two elderly sisters, one of whom is looking after the other, is not the same as a loving sexual relationship between two men, two women or a man and a woman.

We seek to remove that discrimination and to change the definition of spouse, but that is one step too far for this government. It says it wants to remove discrimination, but it does not want to do it openly because of some of the redneck, bigoted attitudes of those who sit opposite. We still have not seen the bill on superannuation. My amendment would ensure that change in superannuation happened and that it happened today, because reform is long overdue in this area. I commend my amendment to the House.

The DEPUTY SPEAKER —The amendment moved by the member for Grayndler has been referred to the Speaker, and he has determined that it is beyond the scope of the bill and the long title and is therefore out of order. The question is that the bill be agreed to. [start page 30757]