To clarify what I said in my speech to the event in Parliament House:
“ the Australian Government believes that people are entitled to respect, dignity and the opportunity to participate in society and receive the protection of the law regardless of their sexuality or marital status. The Government’s commitment to this belief was demonstrated through the Government’s audit of Commonwealth laws in 2007 to identify discrimination against same-sex couples and their children. This was followed in 2008 by the passage of legislation to remove discrimination from 84 Commonwealth laws.
These reforms mean that same-sex relationships are now treated in the same way that oppositesex de facto relationships are treated for the purposes of Commonwealth entitlements and programs. The general areas of laws that have been reformed are taxation, superannuation, social security, health, aged care, veterans’ entitlements, workers’ compensation, employment entitlements, immigration and other areas of Commonwealth administration. In some areas, such as social security, taxation and veterans’ affairs, the reforms were phased-in to allow time for couples to adjust their finances, and for administrative arrangements to be implemented. All of the changes have now been implemented.
The Rudd Government is committed to ensuring that all couples whether marriage or de facto do not suffer discrimination. The Government’s position is that the most appropriate way to achieve this is through the development of nationally consistent framework that provides the opportunity for all couples who have a mutual commitment to a shared life to have their relationship officially recognised and equal rights for all couples in federal and state laws. These reforms are to be implemented consistently with our commitment to maintaining the definition of marriage as currently set out in the Marriage Act.”
I make no comments about the claims of abuse of the demonstrators because I did not see or hear those claims. This morning I spoke to one of the protestors and advised him of this fact and he apologised to me for the disruption. A formal complaint has been made by the protestors to the Presiding Officers of the Parliament and this will be independently investigated.
A copy of my speech is available from my website: www.ursulastephens.com