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Tuesday, 7 December 1993
Page: 4091

(Question No. 712)

Senator Patterson asked the Minister representing the Attorney-General, upon notice, on 19 October 1993:

  (1) Has any decision been made as to whether age discrimination legislation will be introduced in the federal arena; if not, when is it expected that a decision in relation to this matter will be reached.

  (2) What is the most up-to-date timetable in relation to the consideration of whether aged discrimination legislation will be introduced in the federal arena.

  (3) With whom has the Government consulted, and with whom is the government consulting, in relation to desirability or otherwise of age discrimination in the federal area.

Senator Bolkus —The Attorney-General has provided the following answer to the honourable senator's question:

  (1) No. The Attorney-General's Department is working towards the development of a comprehensive Commonwealth age discrimination policy. This policy, if adopted by the Government, will address all relevant areas of age discrimination (including aged discrimination) and may consist of legislative and administrative components. The Government will next year examine the need to introduce legislation in specific areas of Commonwealth legislative competency which are of major concern.

  (2) See answer to question (1).

  (3) The Attorney-General's Department has already commenced consultations with relevant federal Departments.

  There have also been significant consultations under the aegis of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General. I have been advised that in 1990 the Ministerial meeting of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General decided to establish a working party of officers from the Commonwealth, States and Territories to examine the issues arising from age discrimination legislation in the superannuation industry. The Working Party met on three occasions and also discussed developments in the States and Territories.

  In addition, I have been advised that the Attorney-General's Department has been in contact with other interested organisations such as the Business Council of Australia, the then Confederation of Australian Industries, the Life Insurance Federation of Australia, the Association of Superannuation Funds of Australia and representatives of youth and the aged. I also understand that the federal Office of the Aged has provided some briefing to the National Consumer Forum for the Aged.

  Public consultations on the desirability or otherwise of measures to combat age discrimination in the federal area have not yet been undertaken. The Attorney-General's Department proposes to release a discussion paper to facilitate community consultations on the issues involved early next year. Public consultations will occur following the release of the discussion paper.

  I hope that the coming year will see significant progress in the area which raises many complex problems at the Federal level.