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Greens to question gaps and overreach in anti-discrimination laws

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Penny Wright

Australian Senate Australian Greens Senator for South Australia

media release

20 January 2013 Greens to question gaps and overreach in anti-discrimination laws The Labor Government’s proposed anti-discrimination laws fail to address significant areas of inequality, while potentially overreaching in other areas, says Australian Greens spokesperson on Legal Affairs, Senator Penny Wright. At Senate hearings on Wednesday and Thursday, Senator Wright will question experts on the possible impacts of the draft legislation. “The Australian Greens will use the opportunity provided by the Senate Inquiry to identify whether there are any inadvertent instances of overreach in new aspects of the bill, and whether there are any gaps in the bill where new or existing provisions could be further strengthened,” Senator Wright said. “Concerns have been raised about a new provision for unfavourable treatment to include ‘conduct that offends, insults or intimidates the other person’. I will be asking questions of legal experts at the hearings to examine any possible overreach caused by this new definition.” “While the Australian Greens believe this Bill is a step in the right direction, we also believe the Bill fails to protect some who need it most and entrenches inequality. For example, homeless people are often discriminated against when seeking accommodation. “For this reason, this Bill should include specific provisions to prevent discrimination against people based on their social status.” Senator Penny Wright will also question the impact of lawful discrimination through blanket exceptions provided to religious organisations and schools. “Jim Wallace from the Australian Christian Lobby last week said he was ‘not aware of any church or any organisation actually rejecting the employment of anyone and particularly, not the provision of services’,” Senator Wright said. “If this is truly the case, and religious organisations are not discriminating against anyone in employment or the provision of services, then why can’t we just remove the exceptions?” Media contact: Danielle Forsyth 0417 173 508