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Thursday, 9 December 1993
Page: 4240

Senator SPINDLER (12.11 p.m.) —I will reply to Senator Crane first. This amendment was given thorough consideration for weeks. We have discussed this amendment and we sought advice from the Attorney-General's Department. We also sought independent legal advice. This amendment was not brought forward casually.

  We consider this amendment necessary to advance the very tolerance that Senator Kemp suggested our society has. It seems to me that the argument is being turned on its head by Senator Kemp. He is asking for the right to discriminate and repress. This amendment seeks to widen the level of tolerance in our society.

  Because we say this so often, I wonder whether people want to hear and want to understand that we are not talking about peoples' rights to hold views, we are not talking about peoples' rights to be of a particular persuasion and we are not talking about peoples' rights to have particular philosophical or practical views in particular situations. We are simply saying that because a person is what he or she is, which has no relationship to the employment situation, that person should not be discriminated against in employment.

  To the extent that their behaviour affects adversely the objectives of the employer, the employee and the whole workplace, the exemption clause comes into force. If it is behaviour that counteracts the objective of the employment, the employer can discriminate. That is quite obvious.

  We are talking about two different things. I do not think the opposition wants to accept the view that people who have a particular disposition or innate quality should not be readily discriminated against in the workplace. That is the situation that the opposition suggests should be maintained. We are saying that it should be discontinued.

  Question put:

  That the amendment (Senator Spindler's) be agreed to.