Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1904 ..
MR STANHOPE (continuing):
unnecessary-and we do legislate far too much. I believe there would have been other ways of achieving this outcome, essentially through education-education that should be pursued by the Discrimination Commissioner.
I am not sure this is the most appropriate way of raising the profile of an issue of discrimination-namely, potential pregnancy. I understand the Discrimination Commissioner has received only four complaints on this ground in the last three years. So it is not exactly a burning issue out there in the community, but it certainly is something that is of concern to all of us. The legislation is quite adequate. The purpose of the amendment is simply to raise the profile of an issue within the community. Rather than rushing in and introducing amendments of this sort, probably a better way would be to ensure that all employers understand that discrimination on the grounds of potential pregnancy is totally unacceptable.
As this bill, as amended down by Mrs Cross as a result of advice from the department of justice, does no more than clarify what the law is, an education program might have been a better way to go. It probably would have been better to say, "Look, there seems to be some confusion amongst employers in Canberra about the need not to discriminate against a woman on the basis that she may potentially become pregnant," rather than rushing in and amending a law that did not need to be amended.
MS TUCKER (10.58): The Greens will be supporting this bill. I believe it is important to make discrimination positions very clear.
In 1999, the former federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner, Susan Halliday, investigated pregnancy and potential pregnancy discrimination in the workplace. The report was titled Pregnant and Productive. I do not think Mr Stanhope was quite right in what he said. I understood that report recommended that this sort of amendment should be made, to make it quite clear.
Mr Stanhope: That is the Commonwealth, not the ACT.
MS TUCKER: I would have thought it applied to any law dealing with this matter.
Mr Stanhope: Our law is different from theirs. It has a completely different construction.
MS TUCKER: It does not seem as if anyone has a strenuous objection to this. I do not think Mr Stanhope is not supporting it.
Mr Stanhope: We are.
MS TUCKER: You are supporting it?
Mr Stanhope: The point you made was in relation to a Commonwealth act, not the ACT act.
MS TUCKER: Mr Stanhope says the point I made is wrong because it was related to the Commonwealth act. If that is the case, I am happy to accept it, although I would have thought the principle was fine in a territory law.