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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3930 ..

MR MOORE (continuing):

Put in that context, it becomes critical to make decisions that allow our services to apply affirmative action; to help as effectively as we can with what money we have. That creates some difficulties. We have to make sure we can provide services as best we can and distribute them as equitably as we can. In no other way should we be able to discriminate on the grounds of somebody's disability. That is the nub of this argument.

That is why Mr Stanhope's amendment goes too far. He is saying you cannot discriminate at all. The difficulty is that we create a problem in our affirmative action in attempting to provide the best possible services that help to eliminate the impact of somebody's disability. I understand quite a number of advocacy groups have supported the amendment, and I can understand why. They are advocating for individuals at any given time and would have another tool to do that.

If you take the bigger picture and ask how we are going to meet the needs of people for whom we cannot provide accommodation when three people in a disability house say, "No, you cannot discriminate against us; we are not going to allow this person into the house", we will wind up with a series of houses with low tenancy, or people with very high needs requiring different services. That will make delivery of our services nigh on impossible. The impact of that would be far greater harm than the benefits of the Discrimination Act going as far as Mr Stanhope does.

It may well be in 10 years' time - I hope - we could meet disability needs so well that this becomes irrelevant. But most of us know that is a dream. It would take at least 10 years to get there with a very positive attitude from all governments in Australia prepared to meet unmet need - we have identified $294m - and to continue the escalation required. Indications are not good at the moment. The offer put on the table by the Federal Government was anything but generous and certainly does not go anywhere near meeting that annual requirement, even at 50 per cent.

The challenges for us in the disability areas are great. I am very pleased Mr Humphries has put up the amendment. It goes just the right distance for us to handle and manage the issues before us. To go any further would make it impossible to manage our disability services effectively. It would be a major disadvantage to individuals who would not get the help they need.

MR RUGENDYKE (9.50): This debate boils down to a choice of two alternatives - which model the Assembly prefers to best apply to section 27 of the Act, the amendment by Mr Humphries or the amendment by Mr Stanhope. I have consulted fairly seriously with advocates for disabled people. The overwhelming thought was that Mr Stanhope's amendment is far clearer. There are certainly no vagaries in what Mr Stanhope proposes. I came to the conclusion that Mr Humphries' Bill did not actually change the status quo. Mr Stanhope's amendment makes the system more accountable, in my view.

If a disability service becomes outdated, inappropriate or ineffective, there has to be accountability. I am not confident that this would exist under the terms proposed under Mr Humphries' amendment. When I speak to advocacy groups, I ask a simple question: "Do you feel offside or onside with the relevant department?". If they answer offside,

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