Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Government and Democrats 'kill off' the DDA

Download PDFDownload PDF


Ί ntellectual D I S A B I L I T Y Incorporated In the ACT

Australian Psychiatric Disability Coalition


Government and Democrats "kill off" the DDA

On Monday, 20 September, the Senate passed the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 1999. This moves the hearing powers of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission (HREOC) to the Federal Court.

The Australian Democrats have joined with the Government to defeat Labor amendments to remove cost barriers in the Federal Court. The Democrats have ensured that the Commonwealth Disability Discrimination Act (DDA) is now a "dead scroll".

The Democrats and the Coalition have ensured that human rights justice only exists for the wealthy. People with disabilities will not be able to risk their meager possessions in taking an action in the Federal Court. It is now unlikely that any Federal Court decision will be made under the DDA. While ensuring that discrimination and human rights decisions will now be enforceable, people with disabilities will not be able to afford the financial risks in taking their case to the Federal Court.

The National Council on Intellectual Disability (NCID) and the Australian Psychiatric Disability Coalition (APDC) made substantial representation to the Senate. These representations clearly argued for significant amendments to ensure that human rights cases in the Federal Court could be pursued without the threat of an adverse costs order.

The debate in the Senate was shameful and an affront to people with disabilities. Coalition Senators refused to explain to people with disability why 'costs must follow the event' and Democrats stated no position or substantive reason for their silent conformity with the Coalition. One must seriously question the Australian Democrats' commitment to human rights and social justice. At the end of the day actions speak louder than words.

People with disabilities can no longer look confidently to the Democrats for protecting their rights and ensuring that the Senate is a genuine House of Review. The behaviour of the Australian Democrats must now be closely examined. The refusal by the Democrats to state their position on the legislation either before or during the debate in the parliament raises the question as to their true motives in voting for this

discriminatory legislation.

NCID and APDC appreciate the efforts of the Labor Opposition in seeking a more just human rights system. We thank the efforts of the Shadow Attorney General, Robert McClelland MP, and the Hon. Senator Nick Bolkus for their sincere efforts in trying to respond to the needs of people with disabilities in Australia. We will be asking the Labor Leader, the Hon. Kim Beazley MP, to provide a commitment to review this

legislation upon the return of Labor to Government.

September 23,1999

Contact: Mark Pattison (NCID) on 0407 406 647 Paul Cain (APDC) on 02 6280 0875 or 0419 462