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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4236

Senator SPINDLER (11.47 a.m.) —I would like to provide some information that Senator Harradine requested in relation to ILO convention 111 on discrimination in employment and occupation. Australia has, in fact, added sexual preference and age as grounds for anti-discrimination under the convention by declaring regulations made under the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Act 1986. These regulations were made in 1989 and took effect in 1990.

Senator Kemp —So that's the law now, is it?

Senator SPINDLER —No, it is not. It is the constitutional power under which this legislation can be enacted and I am sure Senator Kemp will appreciate that with his detailed knowledge of the constitutional law of Australia. To advert to the situation described by Senator Chapman, it seems to me that people who hold very strong beliefs either way can simply avoid that situation by not seeking employment in such a situation. Senator Chapman used the word `behavioural'. I put it to him that that is a misconception of the three grounds on which I believe discrimination should not be exercised in employment. Age is clearly not behavioural, disability is clearly not behavioural and sexuality is clearly not behavioural.

Senator O'Chee —Ha, ha!

Senator SPINDLER —I am afraid the laughter shows that people are not up with the definitions that scientifically have shown that it is not a choice but that it is an innate physical characteristic. I think that needs to be taken into account.