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Anti-discrimination Act 1998 and Religious Discrimination Bill

October 15, 2019

**Original Motion at bottom**

 

[8.26 p.m.]


Ms ARMITAGE (Launceston) - Mr President, my contribution will be short. I support section 17 of the Tasmanian act which prohibits any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules a person based on certain attributes including age, race, gender, disability, marital status, pregnancy, family  responsibilities, gender identity and sexual orientation.

In 2017, when the bill was before us to remove that section I, along with many others in this House, voted against that to keep in section 17(1) of Tasmania's anti-discrimination legislation. I do not believe it should be overridden by the draft religious discrimination bill 2019.

I appreciate the emails and copies of submissions that we received as well, including the one from the Children's Commissioner, Leanne McLean. It is very important that we send a message to the federal government that, as far as we are concerned, irrespective of who you are, no one should be exempt from giving hate speech. I do not think it matters who it is - no one should be subjected to hate speech.

I agree with most of the points in the motion. As I mentioned to the member for Nelson, I have concern with the section with 'condemn'. I prefer, as an independent in the House of Review, not to use the word 'condemn' as I do not consider it appropriate to condemn the federal government or anyone else for putting up legislation for consideration and debate. From my perspective I am an independent member advocating for vulnerable people. I certainly would not use the word 'condemn'. I have mentioned to the member for Nelson about removing point number 8. I have a motion to that effect. I do not believe number 8 adds to the debate, but I do believe it could be inflammatory, which is rarely helpful in
these situations.

Just looking at points 9 and 10, previously I would have liked, in 2017, when we debated the Government's bill, for it to go out to public consultation. I hope that, on this occasion, it does. I believe there are many in the community who have not had the opportunity to put their beliefs forward. I still consider that is important.

Rather than go on, I think it has been covered very well by many members in this House. I note the time. I do not believe that I have any more to offer, apart from saying that I certainly support the motion.

I would like to move an amendment. I am hoping that members in this House, while I am sure that many will support the member for Nelson's motion, I hope that they see that to 'condemn' the federal government for its attempt to weaken protections for Tasmanian women, LGBTQI people, Aboriginal people, ethnic and religious minorities, and people with disabilities, I do not believe the word 'condemn' is helpful.

We need to be working together. We need to be respectful and I consider that the word 'condemn' is not respectful and that we should be looking to put our point across without using words such as 'condemn'.

I ask members to support removing point 8 from the motion.

 

 

**Motion as it appears on the Legislative Council Notice Paper 15 October 2019**

 

 Ms Webb to move ¾ That the Legislative Council:

 

(1)       Acknowledges that Tasmanians enjoy the strongest and most comprehensive anti-discrimination protections in Australia and that the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 sets a standard for protection that has fostered a fairer and more inclusive society that is applauded by other Australian States and Territories and around the world.

 

(2)        Supports Section 17 of the Tasmanian Act which prohibits any conduct which offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules a person based on certain attributes including age, race, gender, disability, marital status, pregnancy, family responsibilities, gender identity and sexual orientation.

 

(3)        Notes that twice in recent years, attempts have been made in this Parliament to weaken the protections available under section 17 of the Anti-Discrimination Act to Tasmanians who are vulnerable to hateful, humiliating and intimidating language and that both times this chamber said No, not least because the biggest proportion of complaints under section 17 come from people with disability.

 

(4)        Is concerned that the federal government wants to weaken the right of this Parliament to make human rights laws for Tasmanians by proposing a Religious Discrimination Bill that will weaken section 17 in the same way this chamber has refused to countenance. 

 

(5)        Notes that the proposed Federal Governments Religious Discrimination Bill will make Section 17 of the Tasmanian Act unworkable so that it would no longer offer the protections we currently enjoy. 

 

(6)       Is concerned about other provisions of the Religious Discrimination Bill that appear to allow bullying and abusive statements in the workplace, and in the classroom, and discrimination in the provision of health care and in the provision of other services. 

 

(7)        Believes people of faith should be protected from discrimination, as they are under the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Act, but does not believe statements that purport to be religious should have a special legal status over and above other forms of communication. 

 

(8)        Condemns the Federal Government for its attempt to weaken protections for Tasmanian women, LGBTQI people, Aboriginal people, ethnic and religious minorities and people with disabilities.

 

(9)       Calls on the State Government to consult with affected communities so that Tasmanian people who may be negatively impacted by the proposed Bill can have their views heard and considered before forming its response.

 

(10)     Calls on the State Government to defend Tasmanians who are vulnerable to discrimination, hatred and abuse, by rejecting the proposed Federal Bill.

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