Same Sex: Submissions
The area of discrimination that directly affects me and my partner is superannuation.
I retired six year’s ago after [many] years in the Commonwealth Public Service.; The Commonwealth Superannuation Scheme provides for a death benefit to be paid to a spouse if he/she has had a ‘marital relationship’ at the time of the superannuant’s death. I understand that the benefit would be a pension based on 67% of my ‘potential invalidity entitlement’. Unfortunately for my male partner, a martial relationship is restricted to two people of the opposite sex. If my partner was female and we were married or had lived together in a permanent and bona fide relationship for at least 3 years, he’d qualify. The criteria that is used to determine that a marital relationship exists covers the length of the relationship, financial dependence, children, and joint property ownership. We would have no trouble meeting these criteria if the definition of spouse was extended to a same-sex partner. Apart from children, our lives are very similar to our heterosexual neighbours. The main difference is that we have no children. We have had a loving, committed, supportive relationship for [a substantial period of time]. Its simply unfair and discriminatory that we don’t have equality with my straight retired colleagues
I am aware that some changes were made in this area in July 2004. A new category of ‘interdependency relationships’ was introduced as a class of eligible beneficiary for death benefits under federal law and, to ensure consistency, it was intended that the amendments would be carried across to the Commonwealth and ACT public servant superannuation schemes. I can’t understand why this hasn’t happened. There would have been plenty of time to look at the cost implications.
We are aware that there are also other area of superannuation that need to be reformed. These contributions splitting, low income rebate, anti-detriment provision and reversionary pensions.
Of course, my partner and I would like to see discrimination removed from all areas of Commonwealth legislation and programs. I think its important to say that we are well aware that such a broad move would result in benefits being taken away as well as rights and entitlements being conferred. For example, at present, if my partner was retrenched, he could apply for unemployment benefits and my income would not be taken into account for assessing his payments. However, we are very willing to accept this. What we are seeking is equality and fairness for everyone.
Thanks you for the opportunity to make a submission to this important Inquiry.