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Coroner's Office - Recognition of Legal Status of Relationships

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Tags: Human Rights, LGBTI, Discrimination, Anti-Discrimination Act


In 2015 Mr Ben Jago was refused the status of senior next of kin by the Tasmanian Coroner, despite having that status under the Relationships Act. This caused Mr Jago a great deal of emotional suffering. Exactly the same thing also happened to another same-sex partner in 2011. That incident was resolved, it seems, through an enforceable order from the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to the Coroner's Office requiring it to perform its procedures. The Coroner's Office agreed to that order.

After the incident involving Ben Jago, the Coroner's Office stated it had reviewed the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner's enforceable order and declared it could not comply. Why does the Coroner's Office believe it is above the law in failing to comply with an enforceable order of the Anti-Discrimination Tribunal? Why was the enforceable order only reviewed in 2015 despite it having then been in place for four years? Most importantly, what assurance can you give Tasmanians in same-sex de facto relationships that the Coroner's Office will recognise the legal status of these relationships in future?



Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question in relation to this matter. First, I express my condolences and deepest sympathy to Mr Jago for the loss of his partner, Nathan. I know that this has been a distressing time for him over many years. I will not reflect on Coroner's Court proceedings, I cannot do that, but the court has now published its judgment on the decision by the appeal. I am seeking further information from my department on the outcome of this decision and will consider its implications and any possible reform.

I have reached out to both Mr Croome and Mr Jago and arranged to have a meeting with them to discuss these matters and their concerns so that I have all that information in the context of advice that I will receive as well. I am very willing to look at it.