Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 04 Hansard (Wednesday, 21 June 1995) . . Page.. 987 ..
Mr Speaker, I began this speech by expressing my doubts. Many people I deal with on this issue feel the same. When we are talking about mandatory reporting, the question is: In what way can we get the best possible outcome? If we proceeded down the line of mandatory reporting, we would expect, in the initial instance, an increase in the number of reports. We would then expect it to settle down at a level slightly higher than in the current reporting situation. In that case, Mr Speaker, it would be appropriate that the implementation plan as prepared by the department incorporate an evaluation plan. If you evaluate things after you have done them, you may write things up to suit what is going on. It can be difficult. If you want a sensible evaluation of something, you ought to prepare an evaluation plan in the first place so that you can set the goals, the targets, and assess whether or not you have reached them. That is the sort of evaluation plan we should prepare in conjunction with any plan for the implementation of a mandatory reporting system.
Mr Speaker, even with those doubts, I think that what Ms McRae has proposed is appropriate. I will be supporting it. I would like to see it changed so that the reports are quarterly. Ms McRae has indicated that that is not a big issue for her and that that is acceptable. No doubt in her speech in reply we can deal with that as an amendment. It is important that we evaluate and make sure that we are looking at the most effective way of resolving problems of child abuse and family violence. In doing so, it would also be appropriate to assess the system of mandatory reporting to see whether it was going to deliver what we would hope that it would and to do comparisons between what is happening in other States and Territories and what has been happening in the ACT, although of course it is always difficult to draw those comparisons. With those few reservations, Mr Speaker, I support the approach taken by Ms McRae.
Debate (on motion by Ms Tucker) adjourned.
DISCRIMINATION (AMENDMENT) BILL 1995
Debate resumed from 31 May 1995, on motion by Ms Follett:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR HUMPHRIES (Attorney-General) (11.42): Mr Speaker, the Government is pleased to support the Bill which has been introduced by Ms Follett to clarify an issue concerning the status of members of the Assembly with respect to the application of the Discrimination Act. Although on the previous occasion the debate focused on matters of sexual harassment, there are a whole series of ways in which discrimination can occur and they are applied by force of the amendment put forward by Ms Follett.
The LA(MS) Act gives the capacity for members of the Assembly to employ persons, subject to direction as to particular conditions and terms from the Chief Minister, and the employment must be approved by the Chief Minister in that form. The problem which is addressed in this amendment is that these provisions create some ambiguity as to whether office-holders and members of the Assembly who employ staff according to the LA(MS) Act are employers for the purposes of the Discrimination Act, which prohibits both discrimination and sexual harassment in employment.