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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (20 November) . . Page.. 3885 ..

Human Rights Office

MR MOORE: Mr Speaker, my question is to Mr Humphries, and it concerns human rights. Mr Humphries, I note a series of actions taken in the Senate about the reduction of human rights, particularly in Queensland. Senator Nick Bolkus put out a media release in which he stated:

The inability of the Federal and Queensland Governments to agree on arrangements for joint human rights offices in Brisbane, Rockhampton and Cairns is a disastrous outcome for the protection of the human rights of ordinary Queenslanders.

Similarly, Senator Bourne, the Democrat Whip, has put a motion in the Senate noting that redundancy notices have been issued to 30 Queensland staff of the human rights office.

Mr Berry: Mr Speaker, I know that Mr Moore has big plans for his future, but Queensland?

MR SPEAKER: I am waiting to hear the - - -

MR MOORE: The crunch is coming.

MR SPEAKER: I hope that it is coming quickly, Mr Moore.

Mr Berry: Are you moving?

MR SPEAKER: Just a moment. Mr Moore is asking the question.

MR MOORE: It is all right. I am quite happy to give Mr Berry the floor for a bit longer, so that the rest of us can witness the circus.

Mr Speaker, my question to Mr Humphries is: Has the Federal Government taken the same approach to the ACT, in terms of funding for human rights, and what are you doing to ensure that the human rights of ACT citizens remain protected, as far as our ACT Human Rights Office is concerned?

MR HUMPHRIES: Mr Speaker, I thank Mr Moore for this question. I am not sure exactly what the Federal Government has done in respect of the Queensland or other State human rights functions; but I can say I am not much impressed with the decisions that the Federal Government has made in respect of ACT Human Rights Office functions. As members will know, there is an arrangement whereby the ACT and the Federal Government share the costs of the Human Rights Office here. We fund approximately half of the cost of the office and we also supply a commissioner. Up to the present time, that arrangement has worked reasonably well. It may not have been quite in kilter with the number of claims being made under Territory versus Federal legislation through that office; but certainly it was an approximate sharing of the cost of that function.

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