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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 12 Hansard (24 November) . . Page.. 3648 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

careful to present thorough arguments before they vote. Anyone who chooses to look at the Hansard of this Assembly would see the fact that as a member of the crossbench on my own I probably do that much more than other members. I respect the right of other members on the crossbenches to make a different choice. But Mr Moore is quite incorrect to suggest that the Greens do not support their vote with strong argument.


MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (6. 10): I present the Discrimination Amendment Bill (No. 3) 1999, together with its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.


That this Bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, I am pleased to present a Bill to amend section 27 of the Act to overcome the difficulties highlighted by the AAT decision in Vella & Ors and the more recent Supreme Court decision in Richardson's case. My Bill completes a process I started in March 1999 when the AAT's decision was drawn to my attention. After preliminary consultation with affected organisations, I asked the Parliamentary Counsel for a draft Bill on 11 June 1999. In August, I made a public announcement of my intention and commenced wider consultations on my draft Bill. It has received broad acceptance from advocacy groups and service providers. I know that the Government introduced a similar Bill last week. I do not know when the Attorney issued his instructions, but the fact that the Office of Parliamentary Counsel has drafted these two Bills in this timeframe does raise some questions about legislative drafting that the Assembly could usefully investigate.

I do not know what public consultation the Attorney-General has conducted, but I do know that affected organisations - and some have already approached me - believe that his approach does not cure the problem highlighted by the AAT. People within a special needs program, whether because of a disability or some other attribute such as gender or ethnicity, will continue under the Government's approach to be disadvantaged, in that it will be possible for service providers such as the Government to discriminate against them.

This amendment I propose should make it clear that the exemption contained in section 27 is designed to prevent complaints about positive discrimination in favour of persons admitted to a special needs program without abrogating the basic human rights of those persons to be treated fairly, equitably and with compassion. Mr Speaker, I commend the Bill to the Assembly.

Debate (on motion by Mr Humphries) adjourned.

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