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The issue that the Leader of the Opposition has taken up is that it is appropriate that all people have protection under the Discrimination Act. To have a Act that does not cover us ourselves is entirely inappropriate. I congratulate the Leader of the Opposition for bringing up this matter. I have seen a couple of foreshadowed amendments to the Bill - one from Ms Tucker and some from the Government. The Government amendments seem to me to be sensible enough in tidying up a couple of anomalies. Ms Tucker's is more substantive. I will have the opportunity to speak to it at the detail stage of the Bill. Mr Speaker, I am pleased to offer my support to this piece of legislation.

MR CONNOLLY (11.48): Mr Speaker, as has been said, this amendment has been moved by the Leader of the Opposition to try to clarify the situation and put it beyond doubt that Ministers and members would be caught by the Act. It has been supported by the Government in that spirit, with some amendments, and by Mr Moore, and I am sure that it will be supported by the Greens and others.

It is worth noting that it was clearly always the intention of this place that the Act would have that effect. I had occasion to flick through the records of the debate last night. Last night was an appropriate time for it, given that we were here until the early hours of the morning. Members who were present during the debate on the discrimination legislation may recall that it was a very long and tortuous debate. Mr Stevenson, who is no longer with us, really went to town on every point. At one point, when we were debating the issue of the appointment of the Discrimination Commissioner, Mr Stevenson proposed an amendment saying that the Discrimination Commissioner should be subject to direction from the Minister. I objected to that most strenuously on behalf of the Government, saying that, apart from issues of principle and independence of the judiciary or quasi-judicial bodies, the high point of absurdity was that it was highly likely that in the future the commissioner might well be examining and testing actions of a Minister. The Opposition, through Mr Humphries, supported that for those reasons.

The assumption common to both speakers at the time was that of course our conduct as Ministers or, had we thought of it, members would be subject to scrutiny. Doubts have been raised about that. That is why this package will go through today. It will remove that doubt. I think it is worth pointing out that, when the issue was debated and when our minds were focused on that question, the view of both Labor and Liberal spokespersons was that the Bill was clearly intended to cover the entire community, including those of us who were members or, from time to time, Ministers or other office-holders.

MS TUCKER (11.50): We will be supporting this Bill. We will be moving an amendment later. I will not go on at length about how we think it is important to cover all people in the workplace against harassment and discrimination of any kind. It is with pleasure that the Greens support the Bill.

MS FOLLETT (Leader of the Opposition) (11.50), in reply: Very briefly, to close the debate, I would like to thank members for their support of my Bill. I share their concern, obviously, that as members of this Assembly we should be subject to the same laws that we require the community to be subject to. In the case of the Discrimination Act, some doubt has been raised in the Human Rights Office about whether that is actually the case, so the amendment that I am moving aims to put that beyond doubt.

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