Equality starts next week

Equality starts next week

The first of the Federal same-sex equality reforms deemed urgent, such as Commonwealth superannuation, will be introduced to Parliament on Wednesday.

Early briefings to MPs last week suggested that all the remaining reforms would be introduced in a single round of legislation next year.

The discrepancy between the equality savings announced in the budget and the costs predicted by the Howard Government was a result of the budget’s four-year outlook, the Attorney-General’s office told MPs.

The cost of Commonwealth superannuation pensions for surviving same-sex partners is not expected to impact in the next four years compared to the long-term projection.

The budget figures were based on the number of self-declared same-sex couples in the 2006 Census, which are significantly lower than British figures used by the previous government.

Former ABC employee and Commonwealth superannuant John Challis, 79, welcomed the news that death benefit equality would be implemented first.

So all I have to do is to stay alive until 1 July and my partner Arthur will be provided for. What a great relief! The end of a long campaign of lobbying is in sight, Challis said.

Cabinet minister and Grayndler MP Anthony Albanese said the final list of laws in the second round of reforms was not fixed at 100.

As we go through the drafting process more will found, he said.

Labor MPs will see the legislation for the first time on Monday as caucus votes to approve the new de facto definition including same-sex couples living in a domestic relationship.

It is understood the Rudd Government has been reconsidering its stance against an interdependency model, which would include non-conjugal couples, and this has caused delays in drafting some of the legislation.

But the first round of reforms will not include interdependent couples.

The Coalition supported the interdependency model before the 2007 election and has yet to decide if it will support the reforms or allow a conscience vote.

Greens Senator Kerry Nettle plans to introduce an amendment recognising same-sex marriage when the first bills reach the Senate in June.

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