Pressure is mounting on the NSW Government to reconsider a relationship register for same-sex couples following the first ACT civil partnership this week and the Queensland Government’s first steps to creating its own relationship scheme.
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland stepped up the rhetoric for a national approach to the issue last week, saying the state and territory Labor governments were bound by the ALP national conference’s decision in favour of state-based relationship registers.
It was his job to secure that outcome for states that don’t already have such schemes, he said, as well as ensuring the ACT’s civil union plans followed the same policy.
In the overall discussions [concerning the ACT plans] I tried to weigh up everything, but at the end of the day my brief was to try and secure an outcome that was consistent with ALP policy and to proceed with the amendments to eliminate discrimination from same-sex laws, he said. Happily, at least from my point of view, though not from some, that outcome is on track.
McClelland has written to his state and territory counterparts calling for their cooperation.
The Queensland Government will consider becoming the fourth state or territory to allow same-sex couples to register their relationship following that press-ure from McClelland. Queensland Attorney-General Kerry Shine met and wrote to lobbyists stating he would consider proposals.
I am prepared to consider this proposal in principle, Shine’s letter stated. Officers in my department will work on this issue for the Government’s consideration in the second half of this year.
Tasmania, Victoria and the ACT already have schemes that broadly fit the register description requested by last year’s ALP National Conference, but there are differences that McClelland is expected to raise once the remaining state and territory Attorneys-General agree to the cooperative approach. South Australia’s domestic partner laws also allow for agreement documentation if the couple have met the cohabitation requirement.
The Western Australia and NSW governments have said relationship recognition, beyond existing de facto equality, is a matter for the Commonwealth.
Kevin Boreham and Edwin Ho were the first couple to hold a ceremony under the new ACT civil partnership scheme on Monday. The couple had been together for 25 years.