Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 12 Hansard (27 October) . . Page.. 5102..
I present today the Discrimination Amendment Bill 2010, a bill that should put an end to the farcical outcome we have seen in the past few weeks.
The bill contains only one substantive clause. It inserts into the Discrimination Act an exception, or should I say another exception, as there are many in the act already. Even a cursory consideration of the practical application demonstrates that exceptions can and indeed must be included. These exceptions are to protect communities and groups from unintended consequences, just as this amendment does today.
It would be absurd if the Discrimination Act was used to tell an innkeeper or hotelier that refusing service to minors was a breach of their human rights. That would be absurd. There is an exemption for gambling products. You cannot claim it is a discrimination to refuse service to a person because of their age if they are attempting to gamble. That would be absurd. There are exemptions relating to sporting clubs, tours and accommodation, for work benefits and education. In fact there are 47 exemptions in this act.
This is just one more. It is one that will mean a school principal or local community will not face legal challenge for the heinous offence of trying to keep kids in school. Mr Barr, in between jibes, made these comments:
The law now requires full-time participation in education ...
Indeed, it does. He went on to say:
... there would be no excuses. Everyone would participate and everyone would be responsible.
When talking about taking steps to keep children in school during school hours, Andrew Barr said:
Failure to take action and comply with the notice is an offence, and it becomes a matter for ACT Policing and the Director of Public Prosecutions.
For goodness sake, Mr Speaker, we have a government that is prepared to resort to the DPP before it will support a principal in taking reasonable action with his community to keep kids in school.
It is worth taking members through the parameters of the bill. The bill is simple. Proposed new section 57JA, which deals with premises, goods, services and facilities in school hours, states:
Section 19 ... or section 20 ... does not make it unlawful for a person to discriminate against someone else on the ground of age in relation to access to premises, the use or availability of facilities, or the provision of goods or services if the person reasonably believes that—
(a) the other person is a student at a school; and
(b) the school is open for attendance.