A political stoush between the Greens and the ACT’s Stanhope Labor Government over civil unions seems to have been averted following talks between the two parties.
On October 9, ABC News reported that the Greens were concerned Labor amendments to their Civil Partnerships Amendment Bill would water down the ceremonial aspects of the law and give the Commonwealth an excuse to reject it.
ACT Greens leader Shane Rattenbury told the ABC, “We are concerned that the Labor Party’s adding a soft option into this legislation.”
In response, ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell accused the Greens of politicking, and said Labor was not watering down the bill, but “adding extra bits to it”.
However, since entering into further discussions with the Government, Rattenbury and the Greens are now cautiously optimistic about Labor’s amendments.
Rattenbury told Sydney Star Observer, “The Greens were initially concerned their amendments would move our proposal away from creating a legally recognised ceremony and simply amend the existing registry process instead.
“The Government has since committed to us that this is not their intent.
“We accept their word but reserve the right not to make a final decision until we have seen the detail of their amendments … [but] we are now more confident that Government’s amendments will add to our Bill rather than subtract from it and we look forward to seeing the detail.”
Asked when he expected the Bill to go before the ACT’s Legislative Assembly, Rattenbury said he expected both debate and a vote to have been completed before year’s end.
“Now that the ACT Government has agreed to support our Bill it will be passed in the Assembly and become law,” Rattenbury said.
Once this happens, the Federal Government has six months in which it may decide to use its veto to scuttle the Bill.
“The Greens say the ACT Legislative Assembly has the responsibility for making laws such as this for its own people and there should be no intervention from the Federal Government,” Rattenbury said.
“We will be writing to Kevin Rudd and hope to engage in a discussion with him about why the legislation should be allowed to stand.”

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