I rise to speak to the Relationships Register (No 1) Bill. This bill underpins the mechanics of further bills currently before this place which establish a new kind of qualifying relationship for parenting eligibility when it comes to adoption and surrogacy.
In the first instance, all of these measures were in one big, complex bill, which was very sensibly separated into a number of bills in the other place. However, this step should have been unnecessary and unfortunately it has led to a very rushed process for the resultant split bills. I hope that nothing is missed during this process and there are no unintended consequences that arise from a lack of scrutiny.
To get back to the crux of the current debate, this bill seeks to establish a register for non-marriage relationships, regardless of gender and sexual preference. I do not have a fundamental objection to this. The rights afforded to de facto couples were extended to homosexual couples under the commonwealth Coalition government of the Hon. John Winston Howard OM, AC, and I think it is entirely reasonable that we do not seek to further intrude on those rights.
In my opinion, this register merely circumvents the cohabitation requirements to constitute such a status. In good reason, we must acknowledge that these are not marriages and they never will be, regardless of whether the couple is heterosexual or homosexual. This relationship status of two registered people is designed as a security for couples under the law, without the added responsibility and obligations of a marriage. In fact, the bill states that a registered relationship becomes void upon one or both of the partners entering into a marriage, according to the commonwealth Marriage Act. To me, this makes sense.
What cannot be tolerated is a system of registration which tries to circumvent the commonwealth Marriage Act and, by extension, the constitutional power over marriage matters, which remains the exclusive domain of the commonwealth. With those words, I will not oppose the second reading of this bill.