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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2002 Week 7 Hansard (5 June) . . Page.. 1913 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

attributes, has no place in our society. It is not intelligent and serves no useful purpose in modern day Australia.

Laws such as our Discrimination Act are, sadly, still required to ensure equal opportunity in life for all Australians. That is why it is so important that the law is clear, that it applies sensibly and is not allowed to stagnate. Potential pregnancy discrimination can and does exist in various forms. While this is most likely to occur in the workplace-say in a job interview-it can apply equally in the housing rental market or when dealing with a financial institution. Discrimination in each of those situations is unacceptable.

Women who are encouraged by society to have children should be in a position to view the privilege of being able to have a child as exactly that-a privilege-rather than something for which they are penalised.

Just as an aside, last night, as I was visiting my local fish and chip shop proprietor-Harry, from Fisher King in Mawson-we touched on the subject of staffing and staff that he may have had who have become pregnant while working in his business. In the past four to five years, four or five of his staff have become pregnant. He had no problem with that-he welcomed it. They were able to train their successors and, in fact, most of them came back and worked in his business. It did not have any negative impact on his business. In fact, it created an air of cooperation of mutual benefit to the business and the woman having the child.

Mr Speaker, over the years our form of society has, step by step, improved itself. It has become more inclusive, and we have worked at removing, bit by bit, the barriers that custom and convention have allowed to separate, or discriminate against, some members of society. This legislation is a further step along the path toward fairness and completeness, and the liberation that provides opportunity for the exercise of the talents of the individual. It is a descendent of the great legislative acts in New Zealand and Australia that led the world in giving the vote to women. It is therefore fitting that this bill should enter the world here, in the nation's capital. This is an Australian first and, if successful, will raise the bar on pregnancy discrimination to a new and appropriate level.

For those involved, it has been quite a journey to get the bill to this point today. I thank members for their cooperation and input. I also thank, in particular, my adviser, David Moore. As a result of discussions, there are a number of amendments I will move in the detail stage, to somewhat reshape the bill. I again thank members for their support and, in particular, the crossbenchers, Kerrie Tucker and Roslyn Dundas from the Greens and Democrats. I believe the act, as amended, will provide a workable, sensible and effective bill.

I end by commenting on some of the things raised by the Chief Minister. When I asked the Parliamentary Counsel to draft a law on my behalf to implement this bill in principle, this is what they came up with. The same drafter who wrote the bill was asked to write the amendment, and he did so. Had he written the bill with the amendment in place, no amendment would have been necessary. So, despite the fact that I am very grateful to the Parliamentary Counsel, if they had perhaps made the recommendations that the government put to us, we would not be in this situation.

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