Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3925 ..
MR BERRY (continuing):
I do not need to add any more to what I said in the debate in relation to these matters. They are fairly self-explanatory. They do pick up the good ideas which were in the government legislation. I would like to thank government officers for providing their advice in relation to these matters. I would also like to thank those officers from Parliamentary Counsel who have been so swift in their advice and assistance in preparing this legislation.
Amendments agreed to.
Bill, as a whole, as amended, agreed to.
Bill, as amended, agreed to.
Debate resumed from 16 November 1999, on motion by Mr Stanhope:
That this Bill be agreed to in principle.
MR STANHOPE (Leader of the Opposition) (9.28): Mr Speaker, the Discrimination (Amendment) Bill (No 2) 1999 is a Bill to amend section 27 of the Discrimination Act 1991. It is fair to say that the genesis of the Bill was the decision of the Administrative Appeals Tribunal in ACT Health and Community Care Service, the Discrimination Commissioner and Alexander Vella and Ors. That is a decision which arose out of a dispute that occurred in relation to the placement of a disabled person in a house which at the time was the home of four other disabled people.
The situation that arose in that case was that there were four people currently occupying a house. ACT Community Care decided that it was appropriate that a fifth person be placed in the house. The extant occupants objected to that placement and sought to resist it. They resisted it by making a complaint to the Discrimination Commissioner. The Discrimination Commissioner found certain shortcomings in the service's administration, which the Discrimination Commissioner found to be discrimination under the Discrimination Act 1991.
The commissioner did not find an act of discrimination in the decision to move the fifth person into the house, rather she found discrimination on those matters where the existing residents of the house had been treated less favourably than non-disabled government tenants in similar circumstances; that is, by being denied tenancy status by not being informed of or provided with any grievance mechanism, by not being adequately consulted about decisions concerning their home.
The commissioner was focusing not on decisions central to the disability program such as funding support levels or even, for instance, whether the house could or should accommodate an additional person. Rather, the commissioner held that in the administration of the disability program the service could not treat people less favourably than people without a disability in relation to those matters people with