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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 3 Hansard (11 March) . . Page.. 879 ..

I think the number of submissions that were made shows that a lot of people are interested in getting this right and making sure that it does progress. Some of them are simply asking for more time. There are a number of amendments on the table-some have been there for a long time; some have been there for a short time. It would be reasonable in that context to send the bill to a committee for reporting.


(3.45): Mr Speaker, I wish to speak in support of the motion. I think the most telling point is that the government has said, "Look, you have had December, January, February, March."If this was a planning matter, as a proponent for a planning application, I would not be able to put out something for public consultation in December because of the fact that that time of the year coincides with school holidays and people are not able to be focused. I would have to do one of two things: postpone or extend the public consultation.

Every member of the community has the normal distractions over the Christmas school holiday period. In addition to that, the ACT community suffered a great loss during January and that has distracted the entire community. It is only in the last couple of weeks that people have started to focus on this as an issue, and they are now expressing concern to their elected members about issues that arise here.

This is not to say that a vast amount of what is in this legislation is not worthy of support. But there are many ways to approach this issue, and the way that is being proposed in this legislation may not be the optimal approach. You may be able to arrive at a situation where you can legislate against unwarranted and unnecessary discrimination by way of a whole lot of other means.

There are people in the community who are asking-they have the right to ask and really demand-that we should be attentive to their needs. There are legitimate groups in this community who are intimately involved and associated with the sorts of things that are happening in respect of this legislation. The intersex community as a whole has demonstrated to me and to other people in this place that they have been left out of the loop on this. This is a very substantial community of people who have particular interests which I think this legislation presumes go in a particular way, and they are not comfortable with that.

All of us here in this place want to do as much as we can to diminish discrimination against people of any persuasion. Whether it is their sexual inclinations or their religious commitments, whether they are left-handed or right-handed, discrimination of a gross nature is inappropriate. But at the same time, we discriminate every day. We ask ourselves, "Do I wear a green jacket or a black jacket?"or "Do I go out to dinner with this person or that person?"All of things are acts of discrimination-some are legitimate, some are not-and we do not really air them in a public way.

Really, this only became an issue yesterday in the pages of the Canberra Times. There has been very little public discussion. People put in submissions in the expectation that there would be wider discussion, and lo and behold, almost immediately the discussion paper submissions closed we are here barrelling through this piece of legislation. But there has not been appropriate consultation because of the timing-I am not talking

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