Same sex reforms pass through Parliament

Same sex reforms pass through Parliament

Attorney-General Robert McClelland has today [27/11/08] welcomed the passage through Parliament of historic legislation that will remove same-sex discrimination from a wide range of Commonwealth laws.

The legislation removes discrimination in areas including superannuation, social security, taxation, Medicare, veteran’s affairs, workers’ compensation, and educational assistance.
“This landmark reform has been long overdue and it has taken a Labor Government to do it,” Mr McClelland said.

“This is another example of the Rudd Government honouring its election commitments.”
“The changes provide for equality of treatment between same-sex and opposite-sex de facto couples. I think that the general feeling within the Australian community is that these reforms are appropriate and should have been introduced a long time ago”
In areas such as social security and taxation, the reforms will be phased in to allow time for couples to adjust their finances and for administrative arrangements to be implemented. All changes are expected to be implemented by mid-2009.
This historic reform follows the proclamation of the Rudd Government’s changes to de facto laws on 21 November, which give same-sex de facto couples the same rights as heterosexual couples to access federal family law courts on property and maintenance matters.

Here is the list of the legislation being amended under the relevant portfolio[ I have added some highlights to some of the Acts being amended]:

Attorney-General’s Department
o Acts Interpretation Act 1901
o Administrative Decisions (Judicial Review) Act 1977
o Age Discrimination Act 2004
o Australian Federal Police Act 1979
o Bankruptcy Act 1966
o Crimes Act 1914
o Crimes (Superannuation Benefits) Act 1989
o Customs Act 1901
o Family Law Act 1975
o Federal Magistrates Act 1999
o High Court Justices (Long Leave Payments) Act 1979
o Judges (Long Leave Payments) Act 1979
o Judges’ Pensions Act 1968 [ so now Justice Kirby’s partner Johann will be entitled to
a pension in case Justice Kirby dies before him]
o Law Officers Act 1964
o Passenger Movement Charge Collection Act 1978
o Proceeds of Crime Act 2002
o Service and Execution of Process Act 1992
o Sex Discrimination Act 1984
o Witness Protection Act 1994

Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry
o Australian Meat and Live‑stock Industry Act 1997
o Farm Household Support Act 1992

Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy
o Australian Postal Corporation Act 1989
o Broadcasting Services Act 1992
o Telstra Corporation Act 1991

Department of Defence
o Defence Force (Home Loans Assistance) Act 1990
o Defence (Parliamentary Candidates) Act 1969
o Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Act 1973
o Defence Forces Retirement Benefits Act 1948
o Royal Australian Air Force Veterans’ Residences Act 1953

Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations
o Education Services for Overseas Students Act 2000
o Higher Education Support Act 2003
o Judicial and Statutory Officers (Remuneration and Allowances) Act 1984
o Safety, Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1988
o Seafarers Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 1992
o Student Assistance Act 1973

Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs
o Aboriginal Land Grant (Jervis Bay Territory) Act 1986
o Child Support (Assessment) Act 1989
o Child Support (Registration and Collection) Act 1988
o Corporations (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) Act 2006
o A New Tax System (Family Assistance) Act 1999
o A New Tax System (Family Assistance) (Administration) Act 1999
o Social Security Act 1991 [ included in the changes is that same sex couples will be treated, once the changes come into effect as a couple for social security purposes, whereas now they are treated as two single people. This will have a major adverse impact on some couples.]

Department of Finance and Deregulation
o Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918
o Medibank Private Sale Act 2006
o Members of Parliament (Life Gold Pass) Act 2002
o Parliamentary Entitlements Act 1990
o Parliamentary Contributory Superannuation Act 1948
o Superannuation Act 1922 [ affecting Commonwealth public servants]
o Superannuation Act 1976 [affecting Commonwealth public servants]

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade
o Australian Passports Act 2005
o Export Market Development Grants Act 1997
o Trade Representatives Act 1933

Department of Health and Ageing
o Aged Care Act 1997
o Health Insurance Act 1973 [ Medicare]
o National Health Act 1953
o Prohibition of Human Cloning for Reproduction Act 2002
o Research Involving Human Embryos Act 2002

Department of Immigration and Citizenship
o Australian Citizenship Act 2007
o Immigration (Education) Act 1971
o Immigration (Guardianship of Children) Act 1946
o Migration Act 1958

Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government
o Airports Act 1996
o Civil Aviation (Carriers’ Liability) Act 1959
o Navigation Act 1912

Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research
o Pooled Development Funds Act 1992

Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet
o Governor-General Act 1974
o Privacy Act 1988

o A New Tax System (Medicare Levy Surcharge—Fringe Benefits) Act 1999
o Corporations Act 2001
o Financial Sector (Shareholdings) Act 1998
o Foreign Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1975
o Fringe Benefits Tax Assessment Act 1986
o Income Tax Assessment Act 1936
o Income Tax Assessment Act 1997
o Income Tax (Transitional Provisions) Act 1997
o Insurance Acquisitions and Takeovers Act 1991
o Life Insurance Act 1995
o Retirement Savings Accounts Act 1997
o Small Superannuation Accounts Acts 1995
o Superannuation (Government Co-contribution for Low Income Earners) Act 2003
o Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 [affecting virtually every superannuation fund in the country]

Department of Veterans’ Affairs
o Defence Service Homes Act 1918
o Military Rehabilitation and Compensation Act 2004
o Veterans’ Entitlements Act 1986

Source: Ministerial media release with added comment by Stephen Page

Stephen Page, Harrington Family Lawyers, Brisbane 61(7) 3221 9544

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