Tuesday, 24 March 2015
Children and Family Relationships Bill 2015: Second Stage
I appreciate Senator Norris sharing his time and I thank Senator Bacik for allowing us to take precedence on this Stage. I agree entirely with Senator Norris when he referred to the Minister's enthusiasm. The Minister and I were together at the Project Arts Centre on Thursday last. It was great to hear her enthusiasm for the legislation. I might not agree with all of it but certainly her enthusiasm is worthwhile.
I welcome the Government's efforts to take into account how the family structure has changed dramatically in recent years. However, I have some reservations about the Bill as it stands and certain amendments could improve the Bill substantially. The vast scope of the Bill means that the changes should have been put to a referendum. I know the Government is highly unenthusiastic for referendums now but let us consider the fact that we have put more minor changes to referendums in the past. Indeed, the sheer number of changes that this law will bring about is likely to mean there will be changes and challenges to the Bill. When I have introduced legislation in this House, one of the major Government arguments is that my Bills may interfere with the Constitution or may be unconstitutional. However, this Bill, which runs to 114 pages and 180 sections, is supposedly completely watertight. I find that somewhat hard to believe, but let us see how it goes.
A man was on the radio on Saturday week last discussing adoption. He impressed me. He was gay, but he was going to vote "No" in the referendum. His reason was that he believes every child should have a mother and a father.