It is unlikely a grandfather clause will be implemented to alter new social security laws affecting same-sex couples.
Victorian Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby co-convenor Hayley Conway recently returned from Canberra after a series of meetings with senior government and Opposition ministers. She said the message from MPs across the board is that implementing a grandfather clause is -œvery unlikely.
Conway’s meetings coincide with calls from a coalition of social welfare agencies asking the government to review its stance on implementing social security changes to allow elderly welfare recipients to adjust.
The ACON-led coalition, which includes the ALSO Foundation and the Victorian AIDS Council, is concerned changes which come into effect on July 1 will unfairly disadvantage elderly same-sex couples.
The lobby group wants age pensioners and those aged over 55 years in same-sex relationships to continue to be treated as single and wants to impose a 12-month transition period for all pensioners to July 2010.
Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland has repeatedly ruled out extending the July 1 deadline.
Conway said the message from Canberra on pushing for a grandfather clause was clear.
-œThe reality is, to get a grandfather clause the legislation would have to be sent back to the House and back through the Senate and there’s just no guarantee that it will get passed again.
-œIt was really tight the first time… the likelihood of something like that is quite slim.
Conway said the Australian Greens proposed an amendment to the bill in the committee stages for a 12-month transitional period, however, it was not supported by either side of Parliament.
Despite the stalemate Conway said the VGLRL is still in discussion with the government over sensitively delivering changes for elderly pensioners.
-œIn terms of  looking at ways we can lessen the impact for those people who need it -” rather than a universal extension -” there’s certainly room to move on that, and that’s something that will form part of the discussion over the next couple of months and in the lead-up to July 1.

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