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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2010 Week 10 Hansard (Tuesday, 21 September 2010) . . Page.. 4190 ..


community of what the lawful obligations are. Of course, the Liberal Party try to contrive this as being about condoning kids wagging school. That is not what it is whatsoever. Indeed, Dr Watchirs, in her own comments, has made very clear that she does not condone students—

Mr Hanson: Mr Speaker, a point of order. The specific question is whether the attorney supports the statements made by the Human Rights and Discrimination Commissioner. He has had two minutes of preamble. I ask that he get to the nub of the question: does he support the statements made by the human rights commissioner?

MR SPEAKER: There is no point of order. The attorney is answering the question.

MR CORBELL: Thank you, Mr Speaker. This is not about condoning kids wagging school. Kids should be in school, and schools have a legal obligation to ensure that kids remain at school when they are in the care of teachers at a school. But it is one thing to say that kids should not be out of school; it is another to say that if kids are not present at school, service should be denied them on the basis of their age. It is unlawful to discriminate on that basis. It is entirely appropriate for the human rights commissioner to advise the community as to what the law says. If you have a problem with the law, Mr Seselja, change the law, but do not criticise a statutory officer who is quite rightly and quite properly doing her job.

MR SPEAKER: A supplementary question, Mr Seselja?

MR SESELJA: Attorney, to what extent does the principle of giving paramount consideration to the best interests of children or young people surpass the requirement not to discriminate against them?

MR CORBELL: I would have thought it was quite obvious that all officers, including teachers, have to abide by the law. They have to abide by the law. As I am sure Mr Seselja would appreciate, the Discrimination Act and the Children and Young People Act must interoperate and regard must be had to the lawful requirements of both acts, not the one that you prefer to select.

MRS DUNNE: A supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.

MRS DUNNE: Minister, which laws apply to shopkeepers who refuse to serve school children because they consider it might be in the best interests of those children to attend school rather than go shopping?

MR CORBELL: I think I have answered that question, Mr Speaker. I do not believe that the Children and Young People Act places any legal obligation on the part of shopkeepers, but it does in relation to those who have the lawful care of children when they are present at school.

MRS DUNNE: I have a supplementary question, Mr Speaker.

MR SPEAKER: Yes, Mrs Dunne.


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