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Government withdraws sex discrimination bill



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News Release Federal Secretariat: P.O. Box E13, Queen Victoria Terrace. A C T. 2600 Tel.: (062)73 2564

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THE HON IAN MACPHEE, MP

SHADOW MINISTER FO R EMPLOYMENT AND INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS AND RESPONSIBLE FOR STATUS O F WOMEN

m m LIBERAL

29 November 1983

GOVERNMENT WITHDRAWS SEX DISCRIMINATION BILL

The Government's decision to withdraw the Sex Discrimination Bill, re-draft it and re-present it to the Parliament is clearly the result of sustained Opposition pressure and is long overdue.

I regret that the Government has allowed the confusion over the Bill to continue for so long. The Government's obstinacy has set back the cause of equal opportunity in the eyes of the community and damaged the Government in the process.

As long ago as October 19 I publicly called on the Government to take back the Bill and re-draft it from stage one. Finally it has done so, under pressure from both the Opposition and the community at large, including distinguished academics. As a result of this delay, the Government has jeopardised the prospect of haying the

legislation passed in this session of Parliament. ;

The new Bill substantially incorporates the 53 amendments which the Government was itself forced to propose to its poorly drafted ,

piece of legislation. But more importantly 1 welcome the fact that in bringing forward the, new Bill the Goyerriment has accepted the majority of the amendments'"which the Opposition. had proposed " , to the Government. ; ^ V- V ! · ■ -

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In particular, the new Bill has accepted^ the ^ Opposition 'is major amendments regarding civil liberties. It has' substantially corrected the problems which the Opposition had with ...self-incrimination, the onus of proof and the representation of individuals' b y s counsel * The

exemptions relating to non-Government schools are clearer, but the Opposition will still seek a further amendment in "this regard. ;

The Opposition is still opposed to the use of the External Affairs. Power to extend the power of the Commonwealth into areas.which would otherwise be the responsibility of the States. The. Opposition will therefore seek to delete those clauses of the Bill which rely for their validity on the External Affairs Power. - ■

CANBERRA.