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Wednesday, 26 November 1986
Page: 2825


Senator DURACK(9.24) —We are faced with a problem now with amendment No. (3) standing in my name. That amendment was proposed by me as part of the wider and far more important amendments that I moved to confine the definition of `discrimination' to what is stated in the definition in the legislation and to eliminate altogether the power of the Minister to expand the definitions or categories of discrimination. Coupled with that and consequential upon that I was required to attempt to remove a power in clause 31 (2) which provides that the Minister may determine by notice in the Commonwealth of Australia Gazette what any new forms of discrimination may be. That was purely consequential upon my amendments Nos 1 and 2. If No. 3 is passed without the other amendments the Minister's power to determine in the Gazette will be removed but what is left in the legislation in the definition of `discrimination'-in addition to all those categories that are set out-is any other distinction, exclusion or preference by way of discrimination which has the effect of nullifying or impairing equality of opportunity or treatment in employment or occupation and which has been determined by the Minister under clause 31 (2).

Of course, if 31 (2) is now removed that is meaningless. We are then left with an open-ended power of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commissioner to decide what any discrimination that has the effect of impairing equal opportunity may be.


Senator Walters —Just by regulation.


Senator DURACK —Totally, not even by the Minister in the Gazette. Bad and all as that may be, at least it is done by a Minister in the Gazette. I think the only proper course is to withdraw my amendment and let the Committee carry on considering the other amendments.


The CHAIRMAN —I think that is entirely proper. There were two identical amendments. One was foreshadowed by the Australian Democrats and one was moved by you, Senator Durack. As you had moved it I was obliged to put it. It would be easier if it were withdrawn. Amendment-by leave-withdrawn.