Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2017 Week 14 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 November 2017) . . Page.. 5291 ..
From a personal point of view, I still want to make sure that appropriate religious freedoms and safeguards are in place so that nobody is compelled to do something that does not engage their conscience. I note that we have the Human Rights Act here, and there are other safeguards in place. I very much hope that the commonwealth parliament takes all this into account with the deliberations that are taking place at the moment. From what I gather, much of this motion is somewhat superseded by events on the hill. All the same, I respect the outcome that the Australian people have delivered to the Australian government, and I think it was a worthwhile exercise.
We on this side will continue to concentrate on things within the responsibility of the ACT Assembly: issues such as rates, dangerous dogs, consorting laws, making sure that the budget is under control, making sure that the prison system is working effectively, making sure that we get better standards in our schools, trying to put pressure on the government to reduce emergency department waiting times, making sure that there is appropriate recognition of the shortcomings in the Indigenous policy settings, and looking at care and protection issues, housing affordability issues and land release issues. There are so many problems in the territory that are worthy of this Assembly’s attention. I very much hope that all members of the Assembly will be able to turn their minds to those important issues as well.
MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Economic Development and Minister for Tourism and Major Events) (5.30): I thank Mr Steel for raising these matters today as they remain very pertinent in the context of the deliberations up until a few hours ago of both chambers and still may ultimately require the deliberation again of the Senate on any particular amendments that might emerge from the House of Representatives in relation to the marriage equality bill next week.
I think it is important to acknowledge the issues that Mr Steel has raised in this motion because they are significant and they do pertain to the responsibilities of this place. I want to highlight the ACT government’s submission to the Senate select committee. We made it very clear that in the framing of these laws they should not encroach on or undermine protections afforded under current commonwealth or territory anti-discrimination law.
It is worth noting that, in spite of all that has transpired in the national debate over the last several months, there are still members of the commonwealth parliament who, like those searching for the Loch Ness monster, the yeti, the Tasmanian tiger, the bunyip or whatever, are still in search of the homophobic florist, baker, taxi driver or service provider in the wedding industry. There are still people out there, elected to our Australian parliament, who believe that there should be some fundamental right for florists and bakers to not participate in the making of floral arrangements and the baking of cakes for celebrations. It is extraordinary that many months into this debate we are still, it would seem, having to debate those issues.
That is why it is very important that the Assembly focus on the protection of the territory’s anti-discrimination laws. That is why Mr Steel should be commended for bringing this important motion forward today, because it highlights the fact that we