The work agenda of the first term of the Rudd Government was released last week, with equality reforms to Commonwealth superannuation highlighted as having bipartisan support.
The Parliamentary Library’s briefing book for senators and members reminded the ALP it promised to implement all 58 equality amendments recommended by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission last year.
But the briefing also warned that same-sex marriage would remain a significant issue for the future despite bipartisan opposition.
A spokesman said Attorney-General Robert McClelland was committed to removing same-sex discrimination, including superannuation, taxation and social security, but the reforms were still in an early stage.
“Currently, the Attorney-General’s Department is auditing Commonwealth laws to provide the Government with advice on the best way to achieve this,” the spokesman said.
McClelland has met with family law experts but no gay lobby groups at this point.
The AG’s spokesman could not confirm if the reforms would be introduced individually or in omnibus form, as recommended by HREOC.
Reforms to equalise Commonwealth superannuation schemes are expected to be given priority as they were already costed and developed under the previous Howard government as an election eve commitment.
The Superannuated Commonwealth Officers Association (SCOA), whose members in same-sex relationships stand to benefit, had asked John Challis from the ComSuper Action Committee to write about the issue for their members.
But not everyone in the sector is supportive of the proposed changes. The spokesman for SCOA’s NSW branch hung up on SSO, saying, “Thanks all the same, not interested.”
While no timetable for implementation has yet been given, Challis has hope the Government won’t delay.
“With all parties, except Family First, supporting the Commonwealth superannuation reform, it is now only a matter of time before it is introduced,” Challis said.
“Whichever way it happens, 2008 should see this reform implemented, but some prodding by the SCOA Executive may still be needed to speed up the process.
“The Australian Christian Lobby, which succeeded in blocking the superannuation reforms during the Howard government, seems to have softened its stance and won’t have the same level of influence with the Rudd Government.”