Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I am delighted to be speaking briefly on the Relationships Amendment Bill 2015. As previous speakers have mentioned, this is a small bill that effectively brings Victoria in line with the rest of Australia, and possibly not before time. I am pleased Ms Pennicuik’s diligent work in nearly eight years of campaigning for these small amendments to be made has finally paid off. I also note that my partner will be very pleased about this, because we live in separate states. He will be delighted to know that we will now be recognised — —
Mr Dalidakis — That’s why your relationship is a success, for this reason.
Ms PATTEN — Mr Dalidakis is right. Our relationship can finally be recognised in Victoria. As committed as it has been for the last 25 years, it is nice to see that we will be recognising it here as well.
The bill allows for relationships formally registered under corresponding laws in other states and internationally to be more easily recognised here. That will offer a lot of solace to people who have married overseas, specifically same-sex couples who have married overseas and find it very difficult to have their relationships recognised back in Australia. This provides a process through which that can occur. It provides those couples with easy documentation of their relationship, which may have been recognised and celebrated with a ceremony overseas. I cannot think of anything worse than having a wham-bam wedding over in New Zealand, the UK or most states of the — —
Mr Dalidakis — Hawaii!
Ms PATTEN — Or Hawaii. I cannot think of anything worse than having a wedding in a place where same-sex marriages are recognised and not having that wonderful day, that wonderful relationship and that love between two people recognised in your home state.
This will move us further towards greater equality. It further diminishes the existing discrimination against same-sex couples. It opens another chink in the wall of discrimination same-sex couples still have to face in the 21st century in Australia. As Ms Pennicuik mentioned, we have overwhelming support for same-sex couples to be recognised not just within the Relationships Amendment Bill but within the Marriage Act 1961 itself. I hope it is only a matter of time. I hope we do not have to wait another seven and a half years to see that changed.
We know discrimination against same-sex families affects not just the couples but the children in these families, and it affects them very negatively. This enables those children to see that their parents’ relationship is recognised, albeit only within a relationships bill. But it is another step. It is another recognition of the validity of that relationship, the love between those two people and the care that they have for each other.
I hope we can keep pushing at this. I hope this Parliament will continue to campaign and lobby the federal government to move on the federal Marriage Act 1961. This gives another clear example to the community that this is where we stand and this is what we will be pushing forward in the future. This enables couples who register on the relationships register to more easily access various services, including health services, where that relationship needs to be recognised. This bill allows that relationship to be more easily recognised. There will be less waiting and less expense.
I commend the work that we have done in this one year in trying to remove some of the discrimination around same-sex couples in this state. As I said, this is another crack in the wall.
Mr Dalidakis — More work needs to be done.
Ms PATTEN — Mr Dalidakis is right; there is more work to be done, and I hope to see more work on the matter of equality and on the matter of discrimination taken up with gusto in this house and in this Parliament.
I thoroughly commend this bill. I note that I have only just seen the amendments that have been circulated by Ms Pennicuik, and I apologise that I had not seen them earlier. I see nothing wrong with having a ceremony. In the register of marriages we allow a ceremony. This is a register of caring and loving relationships — why not have a little bit of fun and frivolity?
Ms Pennicuik — A celebration.
Ms PATTEN — A celebration, champagne, some nice frocks and may be a little bow tie could go along with this, so I will support the Greens’ amendment for ceremonies to be included in this amendment. I commend the bill to the house.
Ms PATTEN (Northern Metropolitan) — I rise to briefly support the amendments, and I agree that allowing for some form of ceremony or recognition of when a relationship registration and the signing take place is important. It possibly does not need to be done with fabulous frou-frou dresses and three-piece suits and top hats, but to have some recognition of the importance of that relationship is necessary so that when someone does choose to register their relationship they do it with some thought about the importance of that relationship. Recognising that at the time that it occurs is completely in line with, as the minister mentioned, the government’s moves around recognising the importance of same-sex relationships and ending the discrimination that same-sex couples still receive throughout our legislation. I am very supportive of this amendment.