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Thursday, 1 September 1994
Page: 805


Senator SPINDLER —by leave—I shall not detain the Senate for long, but as the mover of the amendment which prohibits discrimination in employment on the grounds of sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability, I must reinforce the comments made by Senator Bell. At the time the government gave due consideration to that amendment. At the time the government supported the amendment. The government took credit for the amendment. The amendment was regarded by the community and by the majority of senators in this chamber as an advance in human rights legislation in Australia. The government was not backward, as I said, in taking credit.

  The government now seems to be reneging on that commitment and is challenging its own legislation. It is certainly not proceeding, as far as the public sector is concerned, in line with this legislation which it enacted. I believe this is a serious matter. We must expect from the government a clear statement as to whether it has changed its collective mind—whether it now abrogates the principle that discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference, age, physical or mental disability is not a matter worthy of protection, or whether it intends to ensure that the legislation it has enacted will be observed not only by the private sector but also by its own government departments and by the public sector generally.