GLBTI rights groups have expressed hope for reform on a range of issues by a returned Labor Government relying on the support of independents and the Greens.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard has formed government with the support of the Greens’ Adam Bandt, Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie, and the two rural independents Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott. Nine Greens senators will hold the balance of power in the Senate from July 1, 2011.
Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Corey Irlam told Sydney Star Observer his group was looking forward to working with the new Parliament to make progress on issues they had raised during the election campaign.
“The fact that the Greens will have a balance of power in the Senate … is a very positive thing for ensuring that Australia’s progressive stance in the last Parliament towards same-sex issues doesn’t go backwards,” Irlam said.
“More importantly there’s the agreement with the independents over private members bills being debates, enabling things like same-sex marriage … to be given a decent run in Parliament.”
Having a Green in the House of Representatives also puts the Greens in the position where they can push for same-sex marriage in both Houses.
NSW GLRL convenor Kellie McDonald told Sydney Star Observer she welcomed the new makeup of the Parliament.
“It’s exciting that the Greens hold the balance of power in the Upper House which means we may be able to lobby for good outcomes for the gay and lesbian community,” McDonald said.
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young said her party’s commitment to marriage equality was “rock solid”, and reaffirmed plans to reintroduce her Marriage Equality Bill on the first day of the new Parliament.
“Our commitment on this issue is second to none,” Hanson-Young said.
“The arrangement around improved parliamentary processes ensures that minor parties and independents have more of an ability to strive for change… [W]ith enough community support and parliamentary pressure, progressive outcomes for the good of the community can be achieved.”
Meanwhile, the executive director of Pacific Friends of the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria, Bill Bowtell, has called on the Gillard Government to increase Australia’s contribution to the global fight against HIV and other infectious diseases.
“Australia should increase its support for the Global Fund to $US200 million per year for three years,” Bowtell said.
“At this level of support, Australia can help the Global Fund to achieve the tremendous goal of reducing the global number of children born with HIV from the present level of 400,000 cases per year to zero by 2015.”