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Disability bill a major breakthrough



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w J _____Deputy Leader, Australian Democrats

MEDIA RELEASE Senator Meg Lees

October 15,1992 MR 92/550

DISABILITY BILL A MAJOR BREAKTHROUGH DEMOCRAT AMENDMENT SECURES ACCESS TO PHONE SERVICES

Disabled people will be protected from discrimination following the passing today of landmark federal legislation.

The Disability Discrimination Bill sets up a Disability Discrimination Commissioner within the Human Rights Commission to handle complaints from disabled people.

Australian Democrat Deputy Leader Senator Meg Lees says the legislation is a breakthrough for the disabled community, although it is not as strong as she would have liked. *

The Democrats secured a major amendment to the Bill by ensuring it covers telecommunications services. This means Telecom and Optus will have to take into account the special needs of people with disabilities when providing them

with phone services. Public payphones will remain exempt for three years.

Federal Cabinet had decided to exempt telecommunications carriers from the Act completely for three years, apparently as part of the deal with OPTUS, the new national telecommunications competitor.

Right until the debate this morning the Deputy Prime Minister, Brian Howe, had indicated the Government would not support the amendment.

Senator Lees said the inclusion of telecommunications services was vitally important to Australians with disabilities, especially those with significant hearing loss or speech impairment.

FOR COMMENT Senator Meg Lees (06) 277-3991

COMMONWEALTH PARLIAMENTARY L I B R A R Y M ICAH