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Thursday, 30 March 2017
Page: 3912

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Defence Industry) (14:34): I present the explanatory memorandum to this bill and move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill will amend the complaints handling processes of the Australian Human Rights Commission (the commission).

The bill will give effect to recommendations of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights (PJCHR) in its report on freedom of speech in Australia, which was tabled on 28 February 2017. I would remind the House that it was a unanimous report supported by all sides, and this bill introduces its recommendations.

The commission has an important and legitimate role to play in resolving complaints on unlawful discrimination. However, the commission's complaints handling model does not operate as effectively as it should.

The bill amends the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 in several ways, including by ensuring that unmeritorious complaints are discouraged or dismissed at each stage of the complaints handling process, that the commission acts fairly in the course of inquiring into, and attempting to conciliate a complaint, and that the president appropriately notifies respondents to a complaint and persons who are the subject of adverse allegations in a complaint.

These reforms will ensure that the recent cases of the students at QUT and the complaint against the late, great cartoonist, Bill Leak, will not happen again. I commend the bill the House.