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Govt amends discrimination legislation as part of 'tough on drugs' strategy.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL THE HON PHILIP RUDDOCK MP

NEWS RELEASE

3 December 2003 R037/2003

GOVT AMENDS DISCRIMINATION LEGISLATION AS PART OF ‘TOUGH ON DRUGS’ STRATEGY

Legislation introduced into the House of Representatives today will ensure a person’s drug addiction cannot be the sole basis of a claim of unlawful discrimination, Attorney-General Philip Ruddock said today.

An amendment to the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 addressed community concerns expressed when the Federal Court found that addition to a prohibited drug could be regarded as a disability.

Mr Ruddock said the Government wanted to send a strong signal that addiction to a prohibited drug is not a sufficient basis to gain the benefits of the anti-discrimination regime.

“This measure is consistent with the Government’s ‘Tough on Drugs’ strategy and requires people to take responsibility for their own actions,” Mr Ruddock said.

“People undergoing treatment and receiving services to treat an addiction will continue to be protected from unlawful discrimination.

“This will be interpreted widely to ensure any genuine attempt to address an addiction will be sufficient to maintain protection from discriminatory acts.

“The legislation is about striking an appropriate balance between the rights of individuals to conduct their lives as they see fit, and the rights of others to live, work and associate in a safe, secure environment.”

The Government has committed more than $1 billion to the Tough on Drugs programme. Heroin deaths had dropped from 958 in 1999 to 306 in 2001 thanks to the ‘tough on drugs’ message.

“Education and public awareness are often the most effective mechanisms for social and attitudinal change, but legislation also has a role,” Mr Ruddock said.

Media Contact: Steve Ingram (02) 6277 7300 0419 278 715

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600 • Telephone (02) 6277 7300 • Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.law.gov.au/ag

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