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Govt to discuss changing gay judge's pension

Reference source: Govt to discuss changing gay judge's pension

High Court judge Michael Kirby asked Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to change the judicial pension scheme so his long-term partner Johan van Vloten is treated the same as the spouse of a heterosexual judge. The 68-year-old judge will receive a pension of $226,338 when he retires in March 2009. Under current laws, his partner would be denied a part-pension worth $141,460 a year should Justice Kirby die first.
Mr Dabrowski, the Executive Director of the Shared Parenting Council said
Clearly judicial activism by Justice Kirby to change laws to favour Gays and his own personal circumstances is a thinly disguised attack on marriage and part of a sustained campaign to erode the institution of marriage by elevating same sex relationships to be equal or better than heterosexual relationships.

It is patently clear to the body of humanity that children should be raised by their mother and father in the protective environment of family.

In Western Australia same-sex relationships now receive preferential treatment as evidenced in the recent adoption of a child by a same-sex couple, pushed ahead of the long que of heterosexual parents waiting in line to adopt a baby.

Kirby is no champion of children's rights…why isn't he campaigning for children's rights to an equal relationship with both mum and dad after separation or divorce? Why isn't he campaigning for law reform to prohibit the summary exclusion of a parent from a child's life by welfare agencies and Family Courts and abducting parents? Justice Kirby can hide behind the meaningless mantra of the "Best Interests of The Child" principle whilst he petitions for the "Best interests of same-sex partners" principle behind the backs of Australian parents who have the true best interests of their children at heart…not Kirby.
Friday, 13 July, 2007
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By Jane Bunce
CANBERRA, July 12 AAP -

The federal government has held talks with gay activists to discuss changing the law to give same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples.

Today's meeting comes after High Court judge Michael Kirby asked Attorney-General Philip Ruddock to change the judicial pension scheme so his long-term partner Johan van Vloten is treated the same as the spouse of a heterosexual judge.

Representatives of three gay rights groups met one of Prime Minister John Howard's senior advisers in Canberra today and will meet Mr Ruddock in Melbourne tomorrow.

Justice Kirby's case has highlighted the conclusion of a report by the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission that more than 20,000 gay Australian couples face systematic discrimination on a daily basis.

The commission found same-sex couples were discriminated against in 58 pieces of federal legislation, under which they are denied basic financial entitlements, tax concessions and superannuation benefits available to heterosexual couples.

Rodney Croome from the Australian Coalition for Equality and representatives of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays and the Queensland Association for Healthy Communities will ask the government to commit to a timetable for reform.
Mr Croome said
Michael Kirby's letter (to Mr Ruddock) highlights exactly the issue we want to discuss - the discrimination against partners in homosexual relationships. Michael Kirby is one of the world's most respected advocates for human rights, really it's a national scandal he's a second class citizen in his own country
The 68-year-old judge will receive a pension of $226,338 when he retires in March 2009.

Under current laws, his partner would be denied a part-pension worth $141,460 a year should Justice Kirby die first.

Justice Kirby, who is in The Netherlands, told The Australian newspaper he had called for the change but said the letter was a private matter.

Mr Croome said
Discrimination went beyond Justice Kirby to affect thousands of ordinary Australians, most of whom were less well off and whose pensions were crucial for their financial security. I believed there was a genuine undertaking at today's meeting that the groups' views would be passed on to the prime minister. The fact that senior government representatives had agreed to the meetings showed the issue was on the radar, but there was no excuse for further procrastination.

The reform was uncontroversial and had already occurred in every state and territory except Victoria, and in most other countries.

Both the government and opposition, while they said they oppose discrimination, have failed to give a timetable for response and it is clear the election is figuring in their failure to address this head on. But same-sex partners who are committed to each other deserve political leaders who are committed to them.
Mr Ruddock's spokesman said
The government would speak to interest groups and other departments in preparing its response to the commission's report. The government has indicated it will give careful consideration to the (commission's) report.

As the attorney-general has previously indicated, this will involve consultation with relevant stakeholders.

The Attorney-General's Department will also consult with other departments to see where we can address areas of concern.
Human rights lawyer and Labor candidate for the government-held Sydney seat of Wentworth, George Newhouse said
Labor had committed to removing discriminatory laws and the government should do likewise.

In 2007 there is no excuse for this blatant discrimination.
Mr Butler the Executive Secretary of the Shared Parenting Council said
We must be very careful to ensure that the hard fought gains made in the last round of legislation will not be slowly eroded and soon you wont need a father, Dads will become simply a forgotten memory in the history books of future generations who will wonder about this unique status of parenthood that used to partake in the family environment.

We will be seeking instructions in this matter from our affiliate member groups and I have no doubt there will be some vigourous debate within our ranks weighing up the need to ensure a fair financial outcome for a same sex relationship versus the maintenace of the importance of fatherhood. This could well be the thin edge of the wedge and ceratinly the fatherhood movement will be seeking to ensure a strong position for dads in the family unit.
Edited

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