Labor will not attempt to fix the 58 laws discriminating against same-sex couples while the Coalition has control of the Senate, but nor will it commit to doing so this year when power shifts.
However, Attorney-General Robert McClelland told a group of equality activists on Tuesday that a Government review had identified a further 40 discriminatory laws, and said it would take more time to assess the implications of the reforms.
The meeting surpassed my expectations, ComSuper Action Committee spokesman John Challis said. I was impressed by the amount of work already done by the Department, and the Minister’s commitment to reform.
In the first two weeks of parliament Labor moved amendments to the Aged Care, Social Security, and Veterans’ Entitlements acts through the lower house without removing the same-sex discrimination those acts contained.
The Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet’s list of proposed legislation for the autumn sitting contains more amendments to the 58 laws.
The Veterans’ Entitlements Amendment (2007 Election Commitments) Bill will fulfil all of Labor’s election promises except to allow same-sex couples the same access as heterosexual couples.
A spokesman for Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said Labor remained committed to removing the instances of same-sex discrimination identified by HREOC, but could not confirm when or if all 58 plus the additional 40 would be done individually or in an omnibus bill.
The Attorney-General is consulting with his department about the best way this discrimination can be removed, the spokesman said.
One unnamed party loyalist and former staffer told SSO he feared the commitment is no longer a priority after it was left out of the Governor-General’s agenda speech at the opening of the new parliament.
Greens Senator Kerry Nettle plans to add equality measures as Labor’s bills reach the upper house, as Labor did to Coalition bills while in opposition.
I think people deserve a timeframe, Nettle told SSO. If you don’t commit to a timeframe or you haven’t said -˜we’re going to wait until this time’, surely you’d do it when they come up. They need to be clearer.
Nettle will lose her spot and the Coalition will lose the majority during the Senate changeover at the end of the autumn session in July.