Page 1190 - Week 04 - Thursday, 26 March 2015

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Act 1988, utility service providers must also comply with credit reporting protections in part IIIA of the Privacy Act and the Credit Code registered under section 26M(1) of the Privacy Act when providing credit to customers in the ACT. As ACAT has dispute resolution jurisdiction for ACT utility services, ACAT will have authority to consider these credit reporting provisions when resolving a complaint about the handling of personal credit information by a utility service provider.

Although these amendments are overall minor and uncontroversial, they continue to improve the operation of the territory’s laws and improve transparency and access to justice. I commend the bill to the Assembly.

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

Human Rights Amendment Bill 2015

Mr Corbell, pursuant to notice, presented the bill, its explanatory statement and a Human Rights Act compatibility statement.

Title read by Clerk.

MR CORBELL (Molonglo—Deputy Chief Minister, Attorney-General, Minister for Health, Minister for the Environment and Minister for Capital Metro) (10.58): I move:

That this bill be agreed to in principle.

I am pleased to be able to introduce the Human Rights Amendment Bill today. This bill marks another significant step in the protection and promotion of human rights in the ACT. The changes made by this bill to the Human Rights Act follow the 2014 review of the Human Rights Act 2004 and consultation with the human rights commissioner and the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Elected Body.

The 2014 review was conducted internally by the Justice and Community Safety Directorate and concluded that many economic, social and cultural rights are already substantially provided for by ACT law and government policy. The review process also highlighted that because of the current economic climate the government needs to be smarter in the way it manages the services and oversight functions that support rights protection in the ACT in order to consolidate and strengthen the Human Rights Act rather than expand it. This bill marks the first time in Australia that an economic, social or cultural right is given the same status as the civil and political rights with which we are so familiar.

This bill extends the binding obligations on public authorities in part 5A of the Human Rights Act to the right to education so that the ACT government has to act and make decisions consistent with the right to education. The government considers that there has been sufficient time since the right to education was first introduced into our Human Rights Act to provide a clear picture of its implications. The government believes that it already meets the immediately realisable obligations under the right to education as set out in section 27A. This amendment therefore strengthens the right to education by requiring public authorities to act consistently with this right and to give proper consideration to the right when making decisions.

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