Both sides of politics will support new amendments to the Rudd Government’s equality reforms that reduce uncertainty for same-sex families.
In the second major backdown since the equality bills were introduced, Attorney-General Robert McClelland has circulated an alternative parent-child definition after his first attempt was criticised repeatedly during the Senate inquiries as creating tiered statuses for children. It recognises co-mothers and co-fathers from IVF and surrogate births.
The Opposition has also introduced its own parent definition amendment that achieves substantively the same result but doesn’t call co-mothers and co-fathers parents. However, as Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis told Sydney Star Observer earlier this month, it would not be used to block the reforms.
We copped a lot of stink about referring this [to a committee], but the bill’s been improved, or it will be, to the satisfaction of most. It extends the rights of same-sex couples beyond what was originally proposed by the Government, a spokesman for Brandis said.
The latest inquiry reports, handed down this week, recommend an education campaign be run to inform people about their new rights and responsibilities.
The reports also contained minority opinions from Greens and Coalition senators who were supportive of the reforms but disappointed that they appeared to have been rushed.
We welcome these developments, but there are still glaring omissions in the general law reform bill, which is meant to be the omnibus bill. They originally listed more than 100 pieces, yet what we’ve seen is 60-odd, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young told Sydney Star Observer.
She said discrimination still existed in migration laws when same-sex couples in registered relationships and marriages arrive in Australia.
We’ll keep the pressure up. I doubt the government would have the courage to support my amendments in terms of the Migration Act and Marriage Act, but if they’re serious about this then they would.
A spokesman for McClelland said the Attorney-General was giving consideration to the matters raised during the superannuation inquiry and would respond in due course.
It is understood Opposition leader Malcolm Turnbull made multiple phone calls to Coalition members and held a showdown in the Opposition party room to gain support for the issue.
His chief of staff, Peta Credlin, and Senator Brandis met with Australian Coalition for Equality lobbyists on Tuesday after the amendments were tabled.
We are pleased to see the level of commitment to these bills from the leader of the Opposition and the level of personal interest that he’s shown in the safe passage of these bills, ACE spokesman Corey Irlam told SSO.
We are disappointed however that his leadership has not been able to secure full support of his party for the use of the term -˜parent’ in relation to IVF for opposite-sex and same-sex couples.
Even conservative Liberal Senator Guy Barnett said he was disappointed that the original bills did not recognise co-mothers and co-fathers, although he didn’t support access to IVF for singles and lesbians.
In Australia today, couples of the same sex are allowed this service. It is one of the consequences of the government’s position and policy that it is allowed and, as a consequence of that, children are in those situations. We need to act in the best interests of the child, Barnett told Parliament.