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Thursday, 19 February 1987
Page: 424

Mr SLIPPER(10.15) —Recently a constituent forwarded to me an interesting letter that he had seen in a Queensland newspaper. It concerned the extent to which the Human Rights and Equal Opportunities Commission Act and the Commonwealth Sex Discrimination Act have now intruded into our everyday lives.

Mr Barry Jones —Joh will fix that up.

Mr SLIPPER —Joh certainly will. Because of this Federal legislation, it is now not possible to place an advertisement in a newspaper asking for a married couple in regard to employment or accommodation vacancies. An example of the stupidity of the Acts is best described by the case set out in the letter.

A property owner requiring additional help asked his agents to advertise: `Require young married overseer'. However, when the replies started to arrive he discovered that they were all from single and not married people. Quite upset at this he contacted his agents. They advised that he could not advertise for a married overseer and that consequently this term had been removed by the newspaper concerned.

Mr Cadman —How shocking! Ridiculous.

Mr SLIPPER —It is shocking, and it is ridiculous, as the shadow Minister points out. The paper in turn confirmed its action and informed him that his proposed advertisement contravened Federal law. He could advertise for `young overseer and friend', or `young overseer required-position suitable for married person as position also available for partner'. The letter stated:

It appears we Australian citizens cannot now advertise for married people, but that we can legally advertise for gay mates, friends, partners-you name it.

Clearly this sort of government interference should not be tolerated. People wishing to employ a married couple are now forced to advertise in a ridiculous, roundabout manner to avoid falling foul of the Federal Government's legislation. I, along with most other Australians, would like to know why the Government is discriminating against the usage of the term `married'. Perhaps given its pre-occupation with social engineering, as reflected in the two Acts mentioned earlier, it has failed to realise that the vast majority of Australians believe in the institution of marriage.

The constituent who became aware of this case wrote to me complaining about the `somewhat incredible anti-family policy of the Hawke Labor Government'. It would appear, however, that there is no similar rule to prevent people advertising for Aboriginals. The Housing Commission of New South Wales, as recently as November 1985, advertised for an Aboriginal housing liaison officer at Wagga Wagga.

Mr Hand —I raise a point of order. Madam Speaker, I would seek your guidance. I am not trying to be clever in raising this, but the honourable member has made a claim which is totally untrue.

Madam SPEAKER —Order!

Mr Hand —No. Just bear with me. I am trying to get from you how I can approach the Chair. The honourable member claimed that this Government is anti-family, and that is not true. Therefore I cannot say that he is telling a lie-

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The honourable member for Melbourne will resume his seat. There is no point of order. I call the honourable member for Fisher.

Mr SLIPPER —It is sad that the honourable member for Melbourne seeks to take frivolous points of order to use up the five minutes allocated to me in the adjournment debate. I proceed to refer to this ad from November 1985--

Madam SPEAKER —Order! The Chair did not say that it was a frivolous point of order. The Chair said there was no point of order.

Mr SLIPPER —It is a pity he raised it. It still took up time. The ad went on to say that the applicants must be of Aboriginal descent, and so on. So we a situation where one is permitted to discriminate in order to avoid discrimination, because the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs (Mr Holding), when replying to one of my colleagues, said that this sort of advertising was permitted because of previous discrimination suffered by Aboriginals.

I believe that the Human Rights Commission legislation and associated legislation present an unnecessary infiltration by government into our daily activities. I have written to the Attorney-General (Mr Lionel Bowen) seeking his explanation for this legislative madness and I am looking forward very much to his reply. I hope that the Government will repeal the legislation and restore some sanity to this area.