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Friday, 28 November 1986
Page: 4003


Mr LIONEL BOWEN (Attorney-General)(4.18) —This legislation was passed by the House of Representatives in 1985. Several amendments were passed by the Senate. They were either moved or accepted by the Government in the Senate. Most of these are of a procedural or consequential nature, but there are some of substance. The first relates to the bringing of procedures under the Racial Discrimination Act into line with those of the Sex Discrimination Act so that a person who has been discriminated against on the basis of race can get a determination to that effect. At present, a person who has been discriminated against on the ground of his or her race or ethnic origin can only get a certificate which is not enforceable. This is an anomaly and the Government has moved to correct it. Another amendment relates to the legislation in respect of the Sex Discrimination Act. That Act included a provision that discrimination did not include a distinction which was based on the inherent requirements of a particular job or position. An amendment was moved which is sufficiently broad to meet the concerns of any religious, educational or charitable institution.

The proposed Commission is a new structure. It will have as members a part time President, the Human Rights Commissioner, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner and the Racial Discrimination Commissioner. I think it meets the requirements of having in place some legislation that deals with our obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It is significant that tomorrow is the international day for the recognition of human rights in the United Nations and it is appropriate, despite the many difficulties that have been experienced in getting legislation through the Senate, that we have an opportunity to accept the amendments now proposed. I urge honourable members to support them. I move:

That the amendments be agreed to.