Michelle Lensink

Relationships Committee Report Ignores Co-Dependents

A State Parliamentary committee has failed to provide any hope for domestic co-dependents, according to Liberal MPs Joe Scalzi and Michelle Lensink.

Mr Scalzi and Ms Lensink, who served on the Social Development Committee’s inquiry into the Rann Government’s controversial Relationships Bill, will tomorrow release a dissenting report. The government members needed to use the chair’s casting vote to obtain a majority report. Former Labor MLC Terry Cameron has also opposed the report.

The Bill was unexpectedly withdrawn from the House of Assembly in November last year by the Rann Government because it was concerned about a backlash from multicultural and church organisations.

Ms Lensink and Mr Scalzi described the committee as a “sham” because it was rushed and had not given proper consideration to issues of co-dependence and entitlements.

“This is a tragic missed opportunity,” Ms Lensink said. “We made it clear to the government that the committee could use this opportunity to present a multi-partisan and united report on a difficult issue. Instead, the report merely endorses the government’s position, with a couple of weaselly-worded recommendations.

“The report glosses over the potential financial implications of the Bill, with Treasury refusing to provide financial details. Curiously, the Attorney-General provided the main financial response to the committee. But he also glossed over the concerns of independent schools and provided advice that was contradicted by the school’s independent advice.”

Mr Scalzi said: “We argue that in seeking to address perceived discrimination against same sex relationships, the Bill effectively discriminates against other long-term caring relationships.

“The Bill is based on the premise that two people of the same sex who share a sexual relationship should have greater access to recognition and benefits than two individuals who live together but share a platonic rather than a sexual relationship.

“The committee has not adequately explored the means available to address the needs of all groups.

“We agree that people in same-sex relationships can be subject to unjustifiable hardship and expense which needs to be addressed.

“However, Labor’s motivation for this white-wash is questionable.”

The minority has recommended that the Bill be re-drafted and re-introduced into the House of Assembly, and that all members be allowed a conscience vote.

“This is an important issue which requires members to vote according to their individual opinions, rather than having to toe the party line,” Ms Lensink said.

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