Friday, 29 June 2012

Civil unions changed in Qld

Last week the Queensland government introduced and passed in almost record time new laws altering civil unions in that State:
  • changing them from civil partnerships to registered relationships
  • removing the State based public aspects of celebrating them.
Here is an extract from Hansard of the speech by Lawrence Springborg, former LNP Leader, now Minister for Health:

Unlike the Labor Party, no-one in Queensland can be under any misapprehension about what we
took to the last state election. The Labor Party did not take to the previous state election its intention to
introduce civil partnerships legislation in Queensland and yet it did it at the death of that stagnant,
decaying government only late last year. By absolute contrast, the LNP went to the last state election
and clearly enunciated to the people of Queensland, regardless of their race, religion, creed, sex or
sexuality, what our intentions would be if we came to government in Queensland post 24 March. There
should not be one single person in this chamber or outside of this chamber who is under any illusions as
to the intent of the LNP, and that has now found its way into an amendment bill in this parliament.
Indeed, it was very, very refreshing because we told the people of Queensland what our
intentions were. Not only that, a large number of members of the Labor Party, who have now consigned
themselves to opposition through breach of trust and maladministration over a period of time, went out
and campaigned on this issue as if there was no other issue for the electorate of Queensland at large.
Look at the former member for Brisbane Central (Grace Grace) who campaigned so vociferously on this issue, the former member for Mount Coot-tha (Andrew Fraser), who campaigned vociferously on this issue, and the former member for Algester (Karen Struthers), who did little else but tweet and facebook about this issue in the lead-up to the last state election and where is she today? The people of Queensland had a clear opportunity to understand the contrasting views and the contrasting intents of the LNP and the Labor Party. Indeed, if we can be accused of anything, it is of not going as far as some people wanted us to go. I think we have struck a reasonable balance with regard to the issue that we are debating today....

 First, we made a clear commitment; secondly, it should be noted that we
were prepared to discuss that in the electorate; and, thirdly, no-one should be under any illusions about
the fact that we took it to the electorate and, therefore, we have the authority of the electorate to come
972 Civil Partnerships and Other Legislation Amendment Bill 21 Jun 2012
into this place and amend the law. Indeed, some people expected the law would be repealed altogether.
A moment ago I talked about the issue of balance. This is an issue of balance and this legislation strikes
an appropriate balance.
During the last state election, the now Premier indicated quite clearly that we would be making
changes to the Queensland civil partnerships law as long as we could preserve and protect those
people who had entered into a relationship under the existing law and that they did not suffer as a
consequence of our changes. That is unlike the Labor Party. From 1998 to 2012 when the Labor Party
was in government, it brought into this parliament a whole raft of retrospective legislation. We respect
the people who entered into those relationships prior to the proclamation of this bill, whenever that may
be if it passes the parliament tonight. They should have those rights preserved. That was not a right that
the Labor Party gave the farmers in Queensland. They took away the rights that the farmers actually
purchased with regard to vegetation management on their property. The Labor government took away
those rights retrospectively and never properly compensated the farmers. They have taken away
retrospectively a range of rights. We are preserving the rights that have been established to date.
Notwithstanding that fact, we have recognised that there is an argument for people who wish to
register their relationships for medical or financial reasons beyond that which is currently encompassed
in the laws of the land with regard to property and intestacy and all of those sorts of things. We should
be recognised for that. Last week, a range of people from within the same-sex community or
representing that community said that at least we have not gone as far as they expected we would go in
this legislation.

Our bill is unlike the Labor bill, which did not have the consent of the electorate at large, which
was not debated in the electorate at large and which was hidden from the people of Queensland at the
March 2009 state election. Fast forward three years and our bill was taken to the people of Queensland.
Labor’s bill was cynical. It was divisive. It sought to use the Queensland gay, lesbian, transsexual and
intersex community as a political football. That is what Labor did cynically on the eve of an election. The
LGBT community was used as a political football. Indeed, the former Premier did not have the courage
of her own convictions. She snuck the legislation—the act as it exists today—into this place under the
guise of a private member’s bill moved by the member for Mount Coot-tha. The Labor Party members
did not have the courage of their own convictions to take this forward. They did not want to actively
debate the issue in the community as a Labor Party proposition. That takes away from the proposition
and contention of the Leader of the Opposition that Labor’s legislation was so broadly supported that it
would not create any pain within the electorate for the Labor Party....

The Labor legislation was rushed to create a political circumstance with the community
that I have mentioned was the political football in the middle. It was cynical. It was also brought into this
place in order to create division at that time and in the most cynical way.
The concern of many people in the community—and a lot of people have talked about respect or
otherwise—was that it emulated marriage. To me, that was a major concern. From members on the
other side of the chamber I see far less tolerance and respect for opposing views than I see from
members on this side of the House. Some three or four weeks ago there was a protest out the front of
this place and members opposite went out there and said that there is a whole bunch of Christians in
this House and that they hold those views because of their faith. They said that it was terrible that
people stand up in this place and enunciate a particular Christian view. That is what they do: they preach
tolerance on the one hand, but they are not prepared to practise tolerance on the other hand. The
hallmark of the Labor Party is absolute intolerance when it comes to these sorts of issues.
No-one should be surprised about my views. I have always said that I believe that marriage
should be between a man and a woman. Many people in this place hold that particular view....

 What we actually find in the community is that people hold a diversity of views regardless of their
race, culture, sexuality or sex. It is actually honed by their personal views, their personal values and
their personal experiences. That is something that honourable members opposite seem completely and
absolutely incapable of understanding in this particular debate.
So to polarise it around those people in the LGBT community who are pushing for this because
everyone in that community wants it is as equally wrong as it is to say that those people in the
heterosexual community oppose it. That is what those in the Labor Party do not tell the people of
Queensland or do not want to recognise. It is also wrong to say that everyone who espouses that they
are a Christian and belong to a Christian church is necessarily opposed to same-sex marriage or samesex
adoption or civil unions for same-sex people in Queensland. We have heard people associated with
churches in Queensland come out and say that there needs to be reform along the lines of that which
the previous government introduced in Queensland. Equally, there are people from Christian churches
or from other faiths who do not support same-sex marriage, same-sex adoption, civil unions or whatever
the case may be.
It is absolutely wrong to say that this issue is based simply around a faith and what Christian
churches are advocating. If we look at what the Anglican archdiocese has been saying about this issue
in the last week, we find that they have been advocating little or no change to the legislation, yet on the
Catholic Church side they are advocating change. There is an oversimplication of this debate. Those on
the other side seek to de-intellectualise the debate as they seek to use it as a polarising issue to create
a political football in the community.
I recognise that and I understand that. The members opposite do not understand that whatsoever.
I do not approach this personally from faith based values. From my enunciations in this parliament noone
knows what my faith is, if indeed I have one. That is a matter for me. But no-one should be
condemned because they have a faith or do not have one or because they have a view either in favour
or against what we are debating here tonight.
It should be seen in the electorate in the context of honesty and a commitment to the things that
you are going to do. As I have said, this is about the preservation of rights and about finding a balance.
There are people on both sides of the argument who are unhappy with what has been put forward in this
amendment bill which we are putting through the parliament. But we have struck an appropriate
balance. Indeed, when those opposite sat in this place in government they sought not only to hide from
the people of Queensland their intent but to not recognise the concerns of people in the community who
had an issue with regard to the emulation of marriage contained in their legislation....

So the electorate at large knew the proposition we were taking to the electorate. We understand
that there was concern within the LGBT with regard to this issue. We did recognise that there was a right
to register a relationship in Queensland. That is preserved in the bill which is before the parliament
tonight. It is just that there is no state sanctioned ceremony. That was the issue which we discussed
during the election campaign and the people of Queensland understood absolutely. When they went to
the ballot box they cast their vote knowing full well that that was the intention of the LNP tonight. We are
keeping our promise to the electors of Queensland as we enunciated during the campaign and as they
consented on 24 March this year.


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