Saturday, 31 May 2008

First Step Taken to end Same Sex Discrimination

Attorney-General Robert McClelland has introduced amendments to remove same-sex discrimination from Acts governing Commonwealth superannuation schemes.
“The speedy introduction and passage of these long overdue reforms would ensure that from 1 July, same-sex couples and their children will be treated equally in the operation of Commonwealth superannuation schemes,” Mr McClelland said.
The Same-Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Bill 2008 makes amendments so that same-sex couples are no longer denied the payment of death benefits from superannuation schemes or the tax concessions on death benefits currently made available to opposite-sex couples.
These significant changes will shortly be followed by further reforms that will end same-sex discrimination in a wide range of Commonwealth laws.
“In areas such as social security, tax and veterans’ affairs, the reforms will be phased-in to allow time for couples to adjust their finances, and for administrative arrangements to be implemented,’ Mr McClelland said.
“In keeping with the Government’s election commitment, the changes do not alter marriage laws. They will make a practical difference to the everyday lives of a group of our fellow Australians who have suffered discrimination under Commonwealth laws for far too long.”

“The Opposition has indicated it supports the reforms. Their cooperation would ensure the passage of this legislation so it can commence on 1 July, Mr McClelland said.
All changes are expected to be implemented by mid-2009.

The Acts governing the following superannuation schemes will be amended by the Same‑Sex Relationships (Equal Treatment in Commonwealth Laws – Superannuation) Bill 2008:
· the Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme
· the scheme under the Superannuation Act 1922
· the Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme
· the Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Scheme
· the Judges' Pensions Scheme
· the Federal Magistrates Disability and Death Benefits Scheme
· the Governor-General Pension Scheme, and
· the Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Scheme.
Other Commonwealth superannuation schemes, such as the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme and the Public Sector Superannuation Scheme, will be amended by delegated legislation.

Source: Ministerial Media Release

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