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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4223

Senator McMULLAN (Minister for the Arts and Administrative Services) (10.26 a.m.) —There is a more fundamental point that goes to dispel the very dangerous attempt that Senator O'Chee has made to create a scare campaign when the basis for none exists; there is a much more fundamental basis. The act makes it absolutely clear that the non-discriminatory section, with regard to termination of employment, does not prevent such a matter being a reason for terminating employment if the reason is based on the inherent requirements of the particular position.

Senator Crane —What section is that?

Senator McMULLAN —It is on page 80, 170DF(2). It is absolutely crystal clear that Senator O'Chee's deliberately provocative choice of example falls at that hurdle and must not be allowed to lie on the table any longer. I support Senator Spindler's amendment, although I can understand some of the arguments that people raise against it; that is part of people's philosophical framework about life which I do not share but which they are entitled to have. But even if we disagree with the amendment, we cannot have the situation where a legitimate debate about the rights of individuals in employment generates a scare—and I will not call it a `scare campaign' because that attributes motives to the person who raised it which I am not trying to do—amongst people that in some way their children might be in danger, and that is without any foundation.

  The act makes it absolutely clear that, if there is such a fundamental conflict between the inherent requirements of a particular position and any of these grounds of discrimination, not only this one, it is a legitimate ground for termination of employment. That is quite clear, so that problem does not arise. I think we have to remember also that the amendment we are dealing with goes to the objects of the act and states that they are to help to prevent and eliminate discrimination on these grounds as articulated. So let us get this back into some proportion.

Senator Kemp —What clause are you referring to?

Senator McMULLAN —Page 18, clause 170DF(2). I think that deals with the issue in question, but I am trying to make a broader point that we are currently looking at the objects of the act. It is hard for me in this debate to understand that someone would be saying it is not desirable for us to seek to eliminate discrimination on the grounds of sexual preference. That is a legitimate debate, but let us not get up and running this argument of paedophiles in the kindergarten; it is explicitly dealt with.