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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 4001


Senator WALTERS(3.13) —The Government was dragged screaming to include the amendments it has already made to this civil liberties area. In one of Senator Ryan's Sex Discrimination Bills-I think it was her second Bill after some amendments were made but really I am not sure which one it was-legal representation could be employed by the Human Rights Commission but the Commission could still deny it to the plaintiff appearing before it. Senator Ryan had legislation in which the situation was that legal representation could be used by the Human Rights Commission but--


Senator Ryan —Mr Chairman, I raise a point of order. Senator Walters's remarks are not directed to the clause or to the legislation before us.


The CHAIRMAN —Senator Walters has the call.


Senator WALTERS —I object very strongly to that point of order taken by the Minister.


The CHAIRMAN —It is not appropriate to object to points of order. Just carry on with your address.


Senator WALTERS —I would like to talk to the point of order.


The CHAIRMAN —I have ruled on the point of order. There is no point of order. Carry on with your speech.


Senator WALTERS —Thank you, Mr Chairman. As I was saying, the Government has been dragged screaming to this legislation. We had the situation that one of Senator Ryan's Bills provided that a plaintiff was not allowed legal representation unless the Human Rights Commission gave permission. The Human Rights Commission could have legal representation and it could deny legal representation to a plaintiff. We pointed out that that was entirely wrong. Indeed, we fed Senator Ryan the amendments we wanted and she has used some of them. She has not gone far enough. She has adopted some of our amendments. Indeed, she has taken up about 50 or 60 of our amendments that we fed to her. But she has not gone far enough. We need this additional amendment which gives the plaintiff a right to legal representation and, indeed, allows the hearings to be held in private unless otherwise stipulated by the commissioners.