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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1905 ..

MS TUCKER (continuing):

In the process of developing this amendment, Mrs Cross has worked well with members. A few changes have occurred to her original proposal as a result of that consultation. It has been a good process and one that I hope we see more of in this Assembly. If we put our heads together, we can often come up with a good outcome. The Chief Minister and his department were cooperative in allowing that process to occur.

In introducing the report she produced, the federal Sex Discrimination Commissioner said:

Across the board there was a positive response to the inquiry with the vast majority of contributors questioning how, as a society that acknowledges both women's right to work and the economic contribution they make, we can better manage the reality of pregnant workers.

Later in illustrating the problem, Ms Halliday writes:

The inquiry revealed that stereotyping the capacities and inclinations of female job applicants who were pregnant or who had the potential to become pregnant in the future affected their ability to obtain work or gain promotion. It was also a reason for denial of training.

Potential pregnancy is about the perception that a woman will go off and get pregnant and therefore should not be treated seriously as a worker or potential worker, regardless of her intentions, and, more fundamentally, regardless of the agreement we have reached as a society that pregnancy is not a reason to refuse work. As Ms Halliday pointed out, the inquiry touched on the deeper question of how best to implement this. Making discrimination law clear is one step, but it also involves a transformation of workplaces and work culture.

The previous government's family-friendly workplace proposal is an example of the types of changes that would help. Shorter standard working hours is another. I will not go any further into this today. However, I wanted to flag that this is one part of ensuring a more inclusive society that will ultimately benefit all of us, through drawing on the experiences and knowledge of pregnant women, mothers and fathers. Workplace engagement on terms that fit is one way that, as a society, we are moving away from the model of divided solo private life for mother and children, and public life for men.

Getting back to the ACT's Discrimination Act: I am pleased that, through careful work on this amendment, the integrity of the act has been retained. I would also like to thank Rosemary Follett for her advice on this issue.

Our Discrimination Act operates in a balanced, case-by-case manner, allowing for (2) (1) (b)-that is, the active clause-does not apply to a condition or requirement that is reasonable in the circumstances. In determining whether a condition or requirement is reasonable in the circumstances, the matters to be taken into account include the nature and extent of the resultant disadvantage, the feasibility of overcoming or mitigating the disadvantage and whether the disadvantage is disproportionate to the result sought by the person who imposes, or proposes to impose, the condition or requirement.

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