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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1995 Week 9 Hansard (22 November) . . Page.. 2276 ..

MR STEFANIAK (continuing):

in relation to the $15m. Mr Speaker, the Government has a pretty good idea of who that source is. Our message to him would be, "Stick to politics and not to sport". I think that same message should go to Ms Follett because this stunt really has left Ms Follett and the Opposition looking like complete and utter dills. At least Ms McRae had the good sense on this issue not to get anywhere near it and perhaps avoided some of the stuff-up.

Discrimination Proceedings

MR CONNOLLY: My question is to Mr Stefaniak as Minister for Family Services. I refer the Minister to the decision of the ACT Discrimination Commissioner last year in the Dalla Costa matter. On 18 October in this place I asked you whether your Government endorsed the position of the former Government, which was to accept the finding of the commissioner that practices of ACT agencies amounted to discrimination against persons with disabilities. You said, and I quote from Hansard, at page 1801:

This Government certainly accepted the decision, as your Government did ...

Why, then, did you instruct the ACT Government Solicitor, or why did you allow your department to instruct the ACT Government Solicitor, to open the contentions of the ACT Government filed in the Administrative Appeals Tribunal with the statement that there was no unlawful discrimination? Are you aware of the distress that this is causing the family and the broader disabilities community, as witnessed by letters that every member will have got from Parent Advocacy, and the damage that going back on an agreed position is doing to the perception of disability services and your Government's commitment to services?

MR STEFANIAK: I made a number of inquiries after Mr Connolly asked me that question. I understand that there has been a legal position for some time. The matter apparently was also dealt with on 25 October 1995 by the AAT, which ruled on a preliminary question about whether it must determine for itself whether the ACT unlawfully discriminated against an individual in the provision of speech therapy services. The tribunal effectively so ruled. I wrote to you in relation to that on 31 October, and I tender that letter, Mr Speaker.

Mr Speaker, the Department of Education and Training, which has taken over this area since, I believe, July, has also developed a policy in relation to the child health and development service which takes into account, I am advised, the 1994 ruling. It is a draft policy which is now in force and I understand that it is to be reviewed in the second half of next year, as is normal with similar types of policy. I have the access to services guidelines and the policy here, which I will also table for your benefit, Mr Connolly.

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