Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 1999 Week 13 Hansard (7 December) . . Page.. 3941 ..
MR HUMPHRIES (continuing):
being met on less favourable terms than elsewhere, we should take a deep breath, pause and think about that. For that reason, I urge you to not support this amendment tonight. It is a very dangerous provision for a Territory and for providers in the Territory who have limited resources to be able to deal with a very large amount of need.
MR MOORE (Minister for Health and Community Care) (10.30): In putting his amendment, Mr Stanhope has argued that he has been approached by a number of advocates and advocacy groups in order to back the extra step that he wishes to take. If we do not take that extra step, they argue - and he quoted from an advocacy group - that there will be an undue impact or undue discrimination on people. I am very keen to persuade members how important it is to defeat Mr Stanhope's legislation. It is a significant issue for us in government.
I refer you to the scrutiny of Bills committee report on Discrimination Amendment Bill (No 2). The legal adviser to the committee took us through section 27 and argued in his last couple of sentences:
It is designed to ensure that, where special measures are taken, a member of the group is not barred from section 27 and claim that he or she is the subject of an unlawful discrimination provision of special measures.
The critical part is the last sentence:
As such, the Committee sees no basis for concern that this amendment is an undue trespass on the personal right to liberties of any person.
That is the fundamental issue that has been identified in the scrutiny of Bills committee. Mr Stanhope's amendment is to go further, to gain extra beyond that. What is the extra? If there is no limit on the way we discriminate, then I suppose it would be reasonable - I have been trying to think of examples- for a blind person to say, "If there are not appropriate facilities for a blind person, then you are discriminating against me. It is reasonable for me to expect that I can walk wherever I like, that every footpath should not have bumpy parts along them so that I can walk places, so that I am not discriminated against".
Under this legislation, that would effectively compel the Government to deliver that service. That is a fairly simple example. As Mr Stanhope said, perhaps people would think that would be ludicrous and they would not pursue it to that extent. But, where you are an advocate for somebody who needs a particular service, that is the very thing you will pursue. I can see some conflict arising as well. I can see somebody with very high needs, for example, saying to Community Care, "If you refuse access to this particular house because of the very high needs of a particular person, you are discriminating against that person on the grounds of their disability".
On the other hand, the other three people in the house will argue that that person cannot come into the house because you would be discriminating against that person on the grounds of disability in the way the Vella case was run. There is a conflict with those