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Tuesday, 5 May 1987
Page: 2313

Senator CHANEY (Leader of the Opposition)(4.21) —I hope the Minister is not seeking to avoid answering the question. My question quite simply is that as I understand it the 1986 Act requires employers to prepare a public report of their affirmative action programs each year, which must be lodged with the Director of Affirmative Action. As I understand it, from that time the report is available to a member of the public who wishes to have access to it. I instance a problem that I see in the procedure that the Minister is promoting under this Bill: Let us assume bad faith. We actually have had some examples of bad faith under the Racial Discrimination Act. There has been very severe criticism of the actions of officers. So let us not always assume that people are doing the right thing. Let us assume that a public authority is reporting and that it decides that it is not very keen for people to know what is going on, so it chooses to report to the Public Service Board, and it may well be nine or 10 months, for all I know, before the Public Service Board report is likely to come out. That, on my reading of the legislation, would quarantine this report for as long as 10 months. On the wording of this legislation during that time it would not be available to the public. I do not think that the Minister at the table and her advisers are trying to promote a cover-up, but I would like some assurance that there is a clear and statutory right for people to have access to those reports as speedily as they have access to the reports of private corporations.