Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 877 ..
The position may be different in relation to the other matters which we foreshadow through the issues paper are yet to be considered in the context of the report which the government is preparing and will table in May, and in relation to which we have not developed a process to take this forward. It may be that the motion that has been moved today may be one way of dealing with those further issues which we know about and with which we are now determined to deal. But there is no need for the referral of this bill to an Assembly standing committee. This is, as I say, simply a delaying tactic to allow the Liberal Party to in some way to reach a position on an issue around which it is simply not comfortable.
MS DUNDAS(3.39): Mr Speaker, I do not support the referral of this piece of legislation to the Legal Affairs Committee. At this stage it is quite unnecessary to do that. Consultation has occurred over the last four months, which is why we have the amendments before us.
Perhaps the process could have been handled better, perhaps a round table discussion was needed, perhaps we could have looked at it as draft legislation, but that did not occur. We have before us today the outcome of consultations that have taken place in respect of the amendments to this quite important and workable piece of legislation.
I am a bit concerned about the comments that have been made about the time frame. In August last year I moved a motion in this chamber calling on the government to start the consultation process and to look at a whole range of issues relating to the discrimination that the GLBTI community faces. That motion was supported by this Assembly. I would like to quote from what the then Leader of the Opposition, Mr Humphries, said at that time:
We believe that legislation in the ACT should appropriately prevent discrimination against people on the basis of their sexual orientation; that discrimination of that kind is contrary to principles of liberalism that suggest that people should be free to express and to do as they wish, provided that their actions do not prevent other people in the community from being able to exercise similar freedoms. The sense of the supremacy of individual choice is the concept which I think militates in favour of removing discrimination in general terms against people of different sexual orientation to ensure that those people enjoy the same freedoms as other people in the community.
If it was as simple as that for the Liberal Party in August, I do not understand why it is so hard now in March. I would like the debate on this piece of legislation to progress today so that we can take this step of removing the discrimination that exists in our current laws.
MS TUCKER(3.41): For similar reasons, the Greens will not be supporting the reference of this bill to a committee. I will not take up too much of the Assembly's time, except to say that, as a member of the Assembly, I know that I have certainly been engaged for a long time in the thinking around this legislation.
The opposition made its intentions clear even before Ms Dundas moved her motion. Previous assemblies have had discussions about this. Perhaps there was a little bit too