ACT civil partnership legislation chronology


28 March

Civil Unions Bill 2006 introduced, proposing to establish a system of civil unions for same-sex couples. Explanatory Statement.

30 March

The Commonwealth Attorney-General threatened to block the Bill under section 122 of the Constitution [media release; ABC AM report] (Federal Law Review article on section 122).

11 May

The ACT Government introduced 22 pages of amendments (see p. 18 of PDF) and then passed the Bill. Supplementary Explanatory Statement.

6 June

The federal Cabinet decided to recommend disallowance of the Act by the Governor-General under s. 35 of the ACT (Self-Government) Act 1988. Attorney-Generals media release. ACT Attorney-General media releases, 6 June, 7 June, 7 June.

8 June

The ACT Government introduced and passed the Civil Unions Amendment Act 2006, to reduce the notification period for a civil union from one month to five days. Explanatory Statement. It also passed an address to the Governor-General asking him not to disallow the Civil Unions Act (see p. 2 of PDF).

13 June

The Governor-General disallowed the Civil Unions Act. Disallowance instrument and Explanatory Statement.

15 June

A motion to disallow the Governor-General’s disallowance instrument was defeated in the Senate by 30–32. Hansard (pp. 22–49 of PDF). This means that the overturning of the Civil Unions Act by the Commonwealth Government was successful. Attorney-General’s media release. Chief Minister’s media release.
The Same-Sex Marriages Bill 2006 was introduced into the Senate by Senators Stott Despoja and Bartlett (Democrats).


Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships (Briefing Paper, NSW Parliamentary Library)

21 October

It was reported that the ACT Government would present a new Civil Unions Bill later this year or early next year (‘Corbell to revive same-sex laws’, Canberra Times, p. 1).

12 December

Civil Partnerships Bill 2006 introduced, removing all references to marriage. Explanatory Statement. Markus Mannheim, ‘Christian groups unmoved on unions’, Canberra Times, p. 3.


6 February

The Commonwealth Attorney-General, Hon. P. Ruddock, announced that the Commonwealth would recommend that the Governor-General disallow the Civil Partnerships Bill 2006 (ACT) in its current form, because ‘It remains the Government’s opinion that the Civil Partnerships Bill would still in its amended form be likely to undermine the institution of marriage’. Media release 6 February. 666 ABC Canberra, Radio transcript 7 February. Doorstop interview 7 February.

5 December

Following the change in Government after the November 2007 federal election, the ACT Attorney General indicated that he wishes to introduce an amended version of the Civil Partnerships Bill to the Legislative Assembly. The new Commonwealth Attorney-General, Hon. R. McClelland, has stated that the Rudd Government supports a 'nationally consistent method of registration that the States and Territories may adopt.' PM [Radio Program] transcript



7 February

The Attorney General has stated that clauses in the ACT's civil partnership bill that would allow gay couples to hold a public ceremony marking their union are 'unacceptable'. P. Maley, Gay unions OK, just not in public, The Australian, p. 3

5 May

After discussions with the Federal Attorney-General, the ACT Government amended the Civil Partnerships Bill 2006 to remove provisions that related to a legally recognised ceremony for civil partnerships. These amendments were made so the legislation would not be vetoed by the Federal Government who opposed formal ceremonies for same sex couples. R. Peake, Angry Corbell abandons gay plan, Canberra Times, p. 1; P. Maley & S. Ryan, ACT made to axe gay unions, The Australian, p. 7

9 May

The Civil Partnership Bill is passed by the ACT Legislative Assembly. Media release

19 May

The Civil Partnership Act 2008 commences operation.