New amendments to the Rudd Government’s equality reforms will reduce uncertainty when the family court considers children from blended same-sex families.
In the second major backdown since the equality bills were introduced, Attorney-General Robert McClelland is expected to introduce an alternative parent-child definition after his first attempt was criticised repeatedly during the Senate inquiries as creating tiered statuses for children.
The inquiry reports, handed down this week, also contain minority opinions from Greens and Coalition senators who were supportive of the reforms but disappointed they didn’t go far enough.
-œWe welcome these developments, but there are still glaring omissions in the general law reform bill, which is meant to be the omnibus bill. They originally listed more than 100 pieces, yet what we’ve seen is 60-odd, Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Southern Star.
She said discrimination still existed in migration laws when same-sex couples in registered relationships and marriages arrive in Australia.
-œWe’ll keep the pressure up. I doubt the Government would have the courage to support my amendments in terms of the Migration Act and Marriage Act, but if they’re serious about this then they would, she said.
A spokesman for McClelland said the Attorney-General was giving consideration to the matters raised during the superannuation inquiry and would respond in due course, as it had to the earlier family-law inquiry.
-œThe Government has circulated amendments to the Family Law Amendment (De Facto Financial Matters and Other Measures) Bill 2008 implementing bipartisan recommendations of the Senate Committee report tabled in August, he said.
The Coalition saw the Government’s parenting amendments as -œvindication of the decision to refer the bills to the Senate committee for inquiry.
-œWe copped a lot of stink about referring this, but the bill’s been improved or it will be to the satisfaction of most. It extends the rights of same-sex couples beyond what was originally proposed by the Government, a spokesman for Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis said.
-œThe Coalition leadership will be weighing up the report and the legislation in light of the report.