Wednesday, 26 October 2011

A cheap stunt or a genuine public policy stance

Fiery scenes in Queensland Parliament as same-sex union bill introduced

Same sex civil unions may be a step closer in Queensland following the introduction of a new bill amid fiery scenes in State Parliament this evening.

Deputy Premier Andrew Fraser introduced the Civil Partnerships Bill, which if passed will legally recognise the relationships of gay and lesbian couples. “I introduce a bill tonight that will declare the end of the legal fiction of human relationships, and give fuller meaning to the relationships that many of our fellow Queenslanders hold as their most important and significant,” he said. “We live in a modern, diverse society. Our community shares many different views, many different beliefs, many different attitudes. "It is a step towards equality, towards inclusion, towards truth and towards the realisation of the legitimate aspirations of thousands and thousands of Queenslanders, their partners, their families and their friends."

A handful of MPs from both major parties were absent for the vote. The bill has been referred to the Parliamentary Health and Disabilities Committee before being further debated further in parliament.

Premier Anna Bligh has indicated she will allow her MPs a conscience vote on the issue while the LNP has labelled the proposed changes a “political distraction”.

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Parliament has eight sitting days left this year and the private members Bill has to be also examined by a parliamentary committee. If the stae election is held early next year (some observers say at the same time as the local government election on the 31st March 2012), there is the real possibility that parliament will not reconvene before the election. 

When parliament is prorogued any legislation left on the parliamentary agenda lapses and will need to be introduced into the new parliament. This then brings into play the option that the 'Civil Union Bill'  may not be a priority of any new government. Therefore, if the Bligh Government is genuine  it will have to pass the legislation during the last eight sitting day of 2011 parlimentary year.

Ross Parisi
26th October 2011

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