Friday, 29 June 2012

Civil unions in Qld: Mark McArdle: "common sense"

The Minister for Energy and Water Supply, Mark McArdle had this to say (edited) abou the civil union proposals:

In the election campaign the LNP made it quite clear that we would review this act if we were
elected but we also made it very clear that we were aware that rights were enacted as a consequence of
the act coming into force and that we would find a balance between the two and move forward in that
vein, and that is exactly what we did. We looked at the act. We took on board the fact that marriage
between a man and a woman is what the LNP believes in and not same-sex marriage. We took that
principle on board and the bill tonight does three things. One, it affirms the opposition to a process that
mimics marriage. That is, it opposes a process that puts in place a ceremony and a divorce application
procedure, as exists under the current act. Secondly, it provides for continuity of recognition of the rights
of people who are registered under the terms of the current act and, thirdly, it allowed further couples,
both same-sex and male-female couples, to register under the act and gain the rights achieved by way
of registration. In my opinion, this particular bill that we are debating tonight upholds the spirit of the
legislation; it upholds the spirit of allowing a couple—same-sex, male or female—to register their
relationship and thereby acquire rights under the terms of the act that flow as a consequence thereof.
Everybody in this chamber knows men and women who are either gay or heterosexual. We all
know people like that. We all have had conversations with them. I can guarantee that everybody in this
House will have had conflicting stories given to them based upon who they talk to. Gay men and women
have said to me that they are torn between whether the act does anything at all, whether they want to
use it and whether it is rubbish. Quite clearly only 600 couples have registered under the terms of this
act. Of those, 158 are heterosexual. Therefore, 451 gay couples have used the act, but there are
thousands of gay couples out there. I do not think that trying to say that a bill that guarantees gay
couples the right of registration of its own merit is sufficient to constitute continuation of the act. In my
opinion, what the act does do is secure those rights for those people who wish to utilise the terms
thereof.
Sadly, the debate tonight has focused purely on the fact of same-sex relationships to the
detriment of the rights garnered by couples who register under the terms of the act. That is the true
purpose of this act. At the end of the night the LNP had made a statement very clearly during the
election campaign as to what we were going to do. There should be no surprises. We made it absolutely
crystal clear that we would review this act. We went out there on the election campaign and made that
commitment to the electorate over and over again. What we did was take a balanced perspective. We
understood the rights that had been given by the terms of the act to those people who had made an
application and were registered and we secured those rights but then further went on to secure and
garner rights for other people who wish to use the terms of the act. The ALP have tried to turn this into a
same-sex relationship issue. It is not; it is the issue of rights being garnered for people who want to use
the terms of the act. The bill we are debating tonight simply puts in place a common-sense alteration of
the terms and secures rights for many other couples for years to come.

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