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Friday, 16 December 1983
Page: 4007


Senator HARRADINE(3.50) — We have got eight minutes to deal with the remainder of the Bill, from clause 111 onwards. We have yet to deal with pages 47 to 57 of the Bill. The two amendments which I will move will make more accountable the actions of the Commission and the Sex Discrimination Commissioner. I mention to the Committee that clause 111 (1) states:

The Commission, a member of the Commission, the Commissioner or a person acting under the direction or authority of the Commission or of the Commissioner or pursuant to a delegation under section 104 is not liable to an action or other proceeding for damages for or in relation to an act done or omitted to be done in good faith in the performance or purposed performance of any function, or in the exercise or purported exercise of any power or authority, conferred on the Commission or the Commissioner.

My amendment seeks to omit certain words and to add these words:

. . . to an act done or omitted to be done honestly and in good faith in the due performance of any function or in the exercise in good faith of any power or authority conferred on the Commission or the Commissioner.

I do not think it is fair enough for a non-elected non-judicial commissioner, the Sex Discrimination Commissioner of the Human Rights Commission to be protected from civil action brought by innocent citizens because they can claim that they acted 'in the purported performance of any function'. The actions, whatever they are, should have been done honestly and in good faith and in the due performance of any function. That then places a real onus on the Commissioner and the Human Rights Commission to act properly. My second amendment deals with a similar matter. I seek to have these words added at the end of clause 111 (2):

. . . unless it appears on the balance of probabilities that the complaint or submission had been made or the document or information had been furnished or evidence had been given in bad faith with an intention to cause loss, damage or injury to another person.

That is, for example, where a complainant, the aggrieved person, or indeed it could be the discriminator, might bring evidence before the Human Rights Commission, which may be an open session, which may be quite damaging or injurious to the discriminator or the aggrieved person. In those circumstances, I believe that if evidence had been furnished in bad faith with the intention of causing loss, damage or injury to another person that person ought to be liable. The essence of my proposed two amendments is to ensure accountability and responsibility on the part of all parties to these proceedings under this legislation. I seek leave to move my amendments Nos (20) and (21) together.

Leave granted.


Senator HARRADINE —I move:

(20) Page 47, sub-clause 111 (1), lines 12 to 15, leave out all words after '' in relation'' (line 12), insert ''to an act done or omitted to be done honestly and in good faith in the due performance of any function or in the exercise in good faith of any power or authority conferred on the Commission or the Commissioner''.

(21) Page 47, sub-clause 111 (2), at end of sub-clause, add ''unless it appears on the balance of probabilities that the complaint or submission had been made or the document or information had been furnished or evidence had been given in bad faith with an intention to cause loss, damage or injury to another person''.