The historic decision of the House of Representatives to pass legislation giving equal rights to same-sex couples when it comes to superannuation entitlements was a fantastic moment -“ the culmination of years of struggle and debate inside and outside of Parliament.
It came a decade after I first introduced my 1998 Same- Sex Super Bill which I reintroduced on five separate occasions. In spite of this, the Liberal/National parties made sure it was never put to a vote.
While important, the passage of the Super Bill is only the first step towards fulfilling Labor’s broader commitment to removing discrimination between same- sex couples and de facto heterosexual couples.
In addition to superannuation, reforms will be legislated in the areas of taxation, social security, health and aged care, veterans’ entitlements, workers compensation, and workplace relations.
The Bill amends legislation governing a range of super schemes, ensuring same-sex partners and the children of same-sex relationships are entitled to death benefits.
The purpose of superannuation is to provide long-term financial security for workers and their families, through their own economic contribution. Whether those families are opposite-sex or same-sex should be irrelevant.
It is outrageous the Coalition’s proposed amendments would weaken Labor’s legislation while foreshadowing their intention to refer the Bill off to a Senate Committee.
It’s time senior Coalition frontbenchers such as Malcolm Turnbull be held accountable for their failure to take on pro-discrimination forces within their own ranks.
The passage of the super bill through the House is a credit to those in the gay and lesbian community who have long advocated such reforms, including Stevie Clayton, Alan Kirkland, the many past and present convenors of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby and the Sydney Star Observer. The campaign was also supported by many in the trade union movement, the superannuation industry and the private sector.
While Labor’s reforms will not satisfy every concern raised by some advocates, they will make a significant difference to people’s lives. It is a practical demonstration of the benefit of having reform advocates sitting around the Cabinet table where decisions are made.
Anthony Albanese is the Leader of the House and Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government.