Births, Deaths and Marriages Registration Regulations | SPEECH


Mr VAN HOLST PELLEKAAN ( Stuart ) ( 11:50 :48 ): I appreciate the government’s support for this motion. The best way to go was carefully thought through by my colleagues and me in our party room and we resolved that, for some of the reasons mentioned by the member for Elder on behalf of government, the Legislative Review Committee would be the best way to go, so I do appreciate that.

Let me say again in the brief time that is available to me, I am not looking to confer any additional rights on people that do not already exist but I think it is important that those rights that do exist are fairly recognised on a death certificate. We all know people who are in really good, wholesome, loving family relationships who are not married, and if one of those people were to die then the partner would not be recognised if that was a de facto relationship. Obviously that has an impact on the surviving partner, the children and grandchildren—whatever that family make up is.

I think it is a very fair and reasonable thing to essentially try to contemporise the act and to bring the act into the modern day world and allow what is already recognised in many other forms of administration across our state and nation into that act. I trust that the Legislative Review Committee will consider some of those very basic straightforward principles all the way through to some of the complexities which the member for Elder mentioned as well which need some very genuine consideration.

I also point out that, if the Legislative Review Committee were to agree and propose to parliament, and parliament were to agree with what I think is sensible and what I outlined in my first opportunity to speak on this motion, it would not in any way undervalue any previous marriage in any way. Using, for example, the constituent of mine or one of the examples that I used previously whereby a person died after being in a de facto relationship for over 30 years, and the partner was left feeling, understandably, dreadfully sad that they were not recognised on the death certificate, and that the person who died had previously been married. That previous marriage should also continue to be recorded on the death certificate.

It is no judgement in one way or another about how that marriage ended, whether it was because one of the married people died or whether it was a divorce, whether it was amicable or bitter, it is just a record of that person’s life—and a really critical, important, poignant component of their life. I think most of us would agree that today de facto relationships would be included in that record.

I also touch on one of those complexities which the member for Elder raised, that is, how do you determine which de facto relationships would be on a death certificate, because we all know that in the real world people can have a series of relationships. Again, that is not a negative comment about them; they might well have all been very positive. However, if a person went through their life having a range of different relationships, how would they be recorded on the death certificate?

I think that, for me at least, is probably the most complicated issue for the Legislative Review Committee to address, and I would be more than happy to participate in that discussion at whatever level the committee would like me to. Again, I thank the government for its support, I thank my colleagues for their support, and I look forward to the good work of the Legislative Review Committee.

Motion carried.