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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2001 Week 3 Hansard (6 March) . . Page.. 558 ..

MR STANHOPE (continuing):

Another basis on which I and the Labor Party are not comfortable with this amendment is the fact that it continues this government's approach permitting discrimination against marginalised groups in the community or actually discriminating at all. There have been a number of instances over the last couple of years of this government winding back commitments that are made throughout all parliaments in Australia to outlaw prescribed discrimination. We have had a number of examples of it and this is a continuation of this government's practices.

Members will remember the 1999 amendment to this act to allow discrimination against disabled people by service providers who are supposed to help them. That amendment to the Discrimination Act still rankles very seriously with me. We have actually institutionalised discrimination against disabled people. The government can now discriminate against disabled people in the provision of services. I guess that is ironic in the context of the inquiries that are going on currently.

In addition, the government and its supporters have now voted twice to permit the victims of crime legislation to discriminate against ordinary victims. Ordinary citizens, ordinary residents, young workers working in a service station or young workers working in late-night shopping centres, who are subjected to quite horrendous trauma as a result of crime, are deemed by this government and its supporters in this place as less worthy of criminal injuries compensation than the police or emergency services providers. That is absolutely outrageous discrimination against people more marginalised and less able to access support in consequence of those traumatic arrangements than the police or emergency services.

This is more institutionalised discrimination by this government. We see, coming on top of discrimination against disabled people, discrimination against a whole raft of workers who are deemed by this government not as worthy as support as police officers under the victims of crime legislation. There is a history of discrimination by this government. It is determined not to be fair and even-handed. A major concern that we have about this amendment to the Discrimination Act to allow discrimination on the grounds of age is that it continues a history of a practice of discrimination; of winding back legislation and winding back provisions designed to ensure that we are all treated equally, that there will be no discrimination, and that discrimination in all its emanations is unacceptable.

For those reasons the Labor Party will not support this amendment bill. We think it is bad as a matter of policy. We do not think the case has been made. This is not a particularly serious or pressing issue within the community. The credit industry does not really need this amendment at all. It has the capacity to consider applications for credit on merit and it should continue to do so. Those in the industry should not rely on some out that they can discriminate against an individual on the basis of some generic or actuarial advice about the credit worthiness of a particular group within the community. We oppose this determination by this government to continue to find opportunities to discriminate against people who really have a right to rely on legislatures to protect everybody equally.


(Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services) (11.03): Mr Speaker, I rise to support the legislation and to deal with some of the rhetoric that Mr Stanhope has used in this debate, just in the same way that he used inappropriate

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