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Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Amendment Bill 2002



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Dep a rtmen t o f th e

P a rlia men ta ry Lib ra ry

I N F O R M A T IO N A N D R E S E A R C H S E R V IC E S

Bills Digest

No. 98 2001-02

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Amendment Bill 2002

ISSN 1328-8091

 Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2002

Except to the extent of the uses permitted under the Copyright Act 1968, no part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the prior written consent of the Department of the Parliamentary Library, other than by Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament in the course of their official duties.

This paper has been prepared for general distribution to Senators and Members of the Australian Parliament. While great care is taken to ensure that the paper is accurate and balanced, the paper is written using information publicly available at the time of production. The views expressed are those of the author and should not be attributed to the Information and Research Services (IRS). Advice on legislation or legal policy issues contained in this paper is provided for use in parliamentary debate and for related parliamentary purposes. This paper is not professional legal opinion. Readers are reminded that the paper is not an official parliamentary or Australian government document. IRS staff are available to discuss the paper's contents with Senators and Members and their staff but not with members of the public.

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Published by the Department of the Parliamentary Library, 2002

I N F O R M A T I O N A N D R E S E A R C H S E R V I C E S

Bills Digest

No. 98 2001-02

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Amendment Bill 2002

Kirsty Magarey Law and Bills Digest Group 11 March 2002

Contents

Purpose . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Background . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

Main Provisions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Endnotes . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2

Warning:

This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Amendment Bill 2002

Date Introduced: 21 February 2002

House: House of Representatives

Portfolio: Attorney-General

Commencement: The Act is proposed to be given retrospective effect - it would be taken to have commenced on 13 April 2000.

Purpose

To bring State governments within the provisions regarding redress for unlawful discrimination in the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986.

Background

The Human Rights Legislation Amendment Act (No. 1) 1999 introduced an anomaly into the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986. Prior to the introduction of those amendments, State governments had been included in the ambit of federal anti-discrimination provisions. Once the amending legislation came into effect (the relevant provisions came into operation on 13 April 2000), State governments were no longer covered by the Federal legislation. This became apparent in a case before a Federal Magistrates Court, Rainsford v State of Victoria [2001]FMCA 115.

This Bill, with a very simple provision stipulating that the ‘Crown in right of the States’ is covered by Part IIB (the part dealing with redress for unlawful discrimination - that is complaints before the President of the Commission or the Federal Court or Magistracy), changes the situation to reflect the original starting position, that is that the State governments are bound by the Federal anti-discrimination regime.

The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has welcomed the amendment, recognising the Attorney-General for his ‘swift action’ in addressing the possible problems that could arise from the drafting error and commenting that it has a number of complaints involving State governments before it.1

2 Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Amendment Bill 2002

Warning:

This Digest was prepared for debate. It reflects the legislation as introduced and does not canvass subsequent amendments.

This Digest does not have any official legal status. Other sources should be consulted to determine the subsequent official status of the Bill.

Main Provisions

The sole effective clause inserts into the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986 a provision which binds the Crown in right of the States with respect to Part IIB - the Part of the Act which deals with redress for unlawful discrimination.

Endnotes

1 ‘Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission welcomes amendments to human rights legislation’, Press Release, Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, 21 February 2002.