Australian gay rights activists Wednesday welcomed a government promise to bring in legislation giving same-sex couples the same rights as opposite-sex couples, the dpa reported.
Discrimination would be removed in laws covering taxation, pensions, health care and veteran's entitlements.
"The recognition of same-sex de facto couples is long overdue and will bring Australian national law into line with all Australia's states and territories and many other Western nations," Australian Coalition for Equality spokesman Rodney Croome said.
He said that draft legislation should also cover provisions for same-sex marriages.
"It's deeply disappointing that the government is not prepared to accept equality in marriage," he said.
Both major political parties have declared that marriage should only be between a man and a woman.
Attorney-General Robert McClelland said that the changes should pass through Parliament by 2009.
"Importantly, the reforms will also ensure children are not disadvantaged because of the structure of their family," he said.
Opposition Liberal Party leader Brendan Nelson said he supported the proposed changes.
"As a matter of principle, we believe that no Australian should pay a dollar more in tax or receive a dollar less in social security support by virtue of their sexuality," he said.