Page 1006 - Week 04 - Thursday, 7 May 2020

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As members will undoubtedly recall, in 2012 a new part 3A, “Economic, social and cultural rights”, was added to the Human Rights Act. The first economic, social and cultural right, the right to education, was added as section 27A.

Amending the Human Rights Act 2004 to add a new section 27B, as this private member’s bill from Ms Cody will do, will protect the right to work and other work-related rights. This bill represents another step forward in this incremental approach to the adoption of economic, social and cultural rights.

I turn now to my technical amendments. I will cover them in this in-principle debate so that members are aware of what is coming, although the issues were raised in the inquiry into this bill. I will be moving the amendments on behalf of the government; they align the bill with the current structure and approach of the Human Rights Act. Importantly, the amendments also clarify the sources of the provisions as a matter of international human rights law; the applicability of section 28 in relation to when limitations on these new rights are permissible; and the obligation of progressive realisation in relation to these rights.

The overwhelming majority of submissions to the justice and community safety committee inquiry into this bill, which I referred to earlier, were supportive of the ACT taking this step to further protect rights.

This bill will strengthen existing protections for the right to work and other important work-related rights in the ACT in a manner consistent with international human rights law. That is why the government is pleased to support this bill.

MR WALL (Brindabella) (4.14): The bill clearly illustrates that Ms Cody has made the pledge to deliver for the unions and repay a debt to them. She is most certainly intending to repay that debt today with this piece of window-dressing. This is an ideologically driven bill. We need only look at what Ms Cody’s presentation speech had in it to notice the political motivation. Could you expect anything else?

Ms Cody interjecting—

MR WALL: I think this serves both of us equally. Ms Cody has become a member for unnecessary legislation and takes the cake when it comes to adding layer upon layer of superfluous laws to our territory’s statute books. Most of the ones that she brings to this place are an unnecessary, ideologically driven, political point-scoring exercise. There is nothing of substance from this Labor member. Would you expect any more?

The Canberra Liberals see no need for this legislation. We reject outright the premise that there is a need to include workers rights in the Human Rights Act and we reject the idea that workers rights are not adequately covered in existing commonwealth and territory legislation. We find it hard to believe that these rights did not already exist.

The Fair Work Act is the pre-eminent law in this country when it comes to a person’s right to work and their rights in work, and there is no compelling reason to overlook

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