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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 4 Hansard (10 April) . . Page.. 876 ..

Passage of these Bills would be contrary to:

  • the fundamental role of government, which is to protect the lives and promote the wellbeing of all members of our community, particularly the most vulnerable; and
  • Australia's international obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Your petitioners therefore request the Assembly to reject these Bills.

by Ms MacDonald, from 200 residents.

The Clerk having announced that the terms of the petitions would be recorded in Hansard and a copy referred to the appropriate minister, the petitions were received.

Discrimination Amendment Bill 2002

Mrs Cross, pursuant to notice, presented the bill and its explanatory memorandum.

Title read by Clerk.

MRS CROSS (10.33): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Discrimination against women on the grounds of pregnancy has no place in Australian society today. The Discrimination Act already refers to an existing pregnancy and breast-feeding, but does not include potential pregnancy-that is, the expressed desire or perceived expectation that a woman may become pregnant.

When I first raised the need for this legislation in February, comments were made from some quarters that it was unnecessary. A perception seemed to exist that the law was already good enough on this front. Subsequent discussions with Parliamentary Counsel dispelled that perception completely.

The Parliamentary Counsel drafters who assisted me in preparing this bill assured me beyond any lingering doubt that the law, as it currently stands, definitely does not cover potential pregnancy. They further assured me that references to the general concept of pregnancy lacked both strength and clarity. This bill will take care of that.

Mr Speaker, before going on to explain the bill in some detail, I wish to briefly speak to the two main requirements, as I see them, for creating equal opportunity for all classes of people in society. The first is clear and effective law. The second is community education.

Generally, the discrimination laws at both the Commonwealth and state/territory levels are good. The Commonwealth approach is probably overly complex, but we are certainly well served here in the ACT. It nonetheless appears that the law is still a bit weak and fuzzy in the area of pregnancy.

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