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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1996 Week 12 Hansard (21 November) . . Page.. 4239 ..


Presentation Speech

Mr Speaker, I present the Discrimination (Amendment) Bill 1996. The principal purpose of this Bill is to amend the Discrimination Act 1991 to put in place a better process for dealing with complaints made under the Act.

This legislation is being introduced against a background of significant changes being made, throughout the country, to arrangements for the delivery of services under anti-discrimination legislation. Members may be aware that the Federal Government is in the process of negotiating new arrangements with State and Territory governments for them to handle human rights complaints, made under federal legislation, on behalf of the Commonwealth.

A co-operative arrangement for handling Commonwealth and Territory human rights complaints has existed in the ACT for the past five years. The ACT Human Rights Office has been jointly funded by the ACT and the Commonwealth over this period, with the costs of the staff being shared equally between us. In addition the Territory has fully funded its own Discrimination Commissioner.

The ACT's arrangement with the Commonwealth comes to an end on 20 December, this year. My Department has been engaged in negotiations with the Commonwealth Attorney General's Department and the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission since earlier this year, in an attempt to come to a co-operative arrangement, whereby the ACT would operate a Human Rights Office and deal with Commonwealth complaints on the Commonwealth's behalf.

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