Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (13 March) . . Page.. 1074 ..
That this bill be agreed to in principle.
MR STEFANIAK(5.43): I seek leave to speak again.
MR STEFANIAK: Part of this bill, with the passing of the previous bill, flows on automatically, and I note that. However, this bill is more than just a bill that flows on from the Legislation Amendment Bill which has just been passed by the Assembly. There are some additional clauses there, including things like the meaning of impairment. I thank the Attorney-General and his department for the briefing they kindly gave me in relation to this bill. I thank the officers of the department-Frances Brown, in particular-who got back to me in relation to some questions I asked.
I was initially concerned because I was told, in relation to clause 5AA of new clause 10, dealing with impairment, that there were amendments there to pick up future impairment. That is an interesting concept. I was initially told that the Commonwealth has not yet done that. I was advised that the Attorney-General's office would get back to me if other states have done it.
This is fairly significant. It crops up in several parts of the bill, amending sections 49 and 50 of the principal act. The department has got back to me. They indicated that provisions in the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act of 1992, the Tasmanian Act of 1998 and the New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act of 1977 extended the meaning of disability, which in our Act is referred to as impairment, to include possible future disability, and that the amendments in this bill before the Assembly would merely bring us into line with those provisions. They then went on to tell me that some exemptions would be allowed in sections 49 and 50, with which I have no problem.
I note the advice from the Attorney's office, and I would have to accept that at face value. Given that there were the terms future disability or future impairment operating in several other jurisdictions, I was trying to think of any examples where that might have been a problem, or some things that might have occurred which should not have occurred there.
I cannot put my finger on any examples, so I am led to assume that this is a reasonable provision. It is, however, something which has the potential to cause problems. It is something that we as an opposition-and I would suggest the Assembly-should keep an eye on, to see how it pans out. Whilst I have some reservations about it, on the face of it, it would seem to be a provision which has applied elsewhere. As we are merely catching up, it is therefore sensible to put that in the legislation.
Apart from that, there are a number of changes, including a definition of near relative-and several other matters in this bill. It picks up some issues from the previous bill which has now been passed by the Assembly, so the opposition will be supporting this bill, Mr Speaker.
MS DUNDAS(5.47): This bill makes some sensible amendments to the Discrimination