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Admission extracted from Benson-Pope

Tuesday, 30 November 2004

Admission extracted from Benson-Pope on Civil Union Bill

United Future's Gordon Copeland today extracted a grudging admission from Associate Justice Minister David Benson-Pope in Parliament that the Civil Union Bill won't do the things he said last week that it would do.

"And now that he's admitted that the Civil Union Bill itself offers no additional legal protection to couples, he can contribute to a more accurate and factual debate on this issue," Mr Copeland said.

"Any new rights that come to couples will be from the accompanying legislation, the Relationships (Statutory References) Bill, which will be debated and voted on separately."

Under questioning, Mr Benson-Pope was also forced to admit that he had misrepresented United Future's position on the Civil Union Bill, in stating that it was not a conscience issue for the party.

Mr Copeland also called on the Government to back a referendum on this issue because of public concerns that Labour MPs "may be arm-twisted to vote for the legislation because it appears in their election manifesto".

Mr Copeland later said that under the Relationships Bill, de facto couples would have the same rights as civil union partners, so it's not necessary to have a civil union to get greater legal protection in the situation where one partner dies - a particular case argued by Mr Benson-Pope.

ENDS

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