Same sex boost to ACT economy
Gay marriage could be a key to boosting the ACT economy as politicians work to bring a new part of the billion-dollar wedding industry to the capital.
The ACT government’s plans to legalise same-sex marriage could bring vital tourism dollars to the capital, according to Canberra Business Council chief executive Chris Faulks.
While emphasising that the Marriage Equality Bill 2013 should be a conscience vote when introduced on Thursday, Ms Faulks said similar legislation had provided significant economic benefits to New Zealand.
”It could be the same case for the ACT, if we were the first jurisdiction to pass it,” she said. ”If it was good for tourism, it would be good for the economy, especially as we face cuts.”
After the first legislative changes in 2009, 226 couples registered for civil partnerships in the ACT. An additional 156 have since registered for domestic relationships and 11 for civil unions throughout 2011-12 after additional reform.
Canberra celebrant Judy Aulich said only 5 per cent of her business came from same-sex couples, but this figure was expected to surge if the legislation was passed.
”I imagine if we allow same-sex marriage here in the ACT, it’d attract people not only from the ACT but across Australia,” she said. ”Certainly, there will be people who’d want to take advantage of that.”
Ms Aulich said the move could also stem the flow of couples travelling to New Zealand for marriage ceremonies, an opinion shared by fellow celebrant Stephen Lee.
Mr Lee said his Sydney office had been working with couples travelling abroad for a legal ceremony before holding another service in Australia.
”I’m finding that I have couples contacting me now that are going over to New Zealand to have the legal ceremony there and coming back,” he said.
”If it came into the ACT, I think you’d see a lot of people jumping on planes and having ceremonies down there. Absolutely, you will.”
The change to legislation could damage his own business in NSW, but Mr Lee said any move to put pressure on the federal government deserved support.
Meanwhile Equal Love ACT spokeswoman Ivette Madrid said the proposed legislation, which she described as ”a ray of sunshine”, would be the focal point of a rally to be held in Canberra on October 5.
This article appeared in The Canberra Times on Tuesday September 17th 2013