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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2003 Week 14 Hansard (10 December) . . Page.. 5062 ..

MRS CROSS (continuing):

person may be predisposed to depression; discrimination by insurance companies which may not insure a person if they find that the person has genes that may predispose them to particular diseases or conditions; and discrimination by governments or parts of governments with respect to licences, visas, pension payments, et cetera.

Genetic technology can produce wonderful benefits for the community, but until the community has confidence that the information collected will be treated appropriately and that there are sufficient deterrents against the misuse of the information the benefits will not be realised. This would be a great shame as it is likely to inhibit the enormous benefits from being realised and restrict the success of future applications. It is quite simple, Mr Speaker: genetic privacy needs to be assured.

Just as our privacy is being protected through other legislation and discrimination is outlawed, so should our very basic information be protected. Remember the Australia Card. We have moved from the thought of others holding our birth dates, names and addresses to the very real situation of others being able to access our own personal blueprints, a real "big brother"and far more dangerous if misused. The possibility of identifying susceptibility, reducing risk and preventing disease is a wonderful new fruit of genetic knowledge and it will all be stopped in its tracks if we do not provide this kind of protection.

Mr Speaker, we need to allow people to get tested without worrying about having their information misused. We need to remember that it is private and very, very personal. We need to make sure that genetic information is not used without the approval or authorisation of the individuals. We need protection for the community against any possible genetic discrimination. We need to ensure this legislation is in place before there is widespread use of genetic information as a pre-emptive measure.

We need this legislation to make sure that there is no discrimination based on genetic information as this will create a new social underclass that is uninsurable and unemployable. Genetic information is all about you. You are your DNA and your DNA is you. It is what you are that programs you.

Debate (on motion by Mr Quinlan ) adjourned to the next sitting.

Residential Tenancies (Assisted Tenants) Amendment Bill 2003

Mrs Burke, pursuant to notice, presented the bill.

Title read by clerk.

MRS BURKE (10.45): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

Mr Speaker, the Residential Tenancies (Assisted Tenants) Amendment Bill 2003 will create an improved public housing rental environment and, in so doing, give effect to the fundamental principle that assisted tenants are entitled to security of housing, while simultaneously maintaining continued housing assistance for those most in need in our community.

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