A major admission by new Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus on his predecessor’s botched anti-discrimination reforms ($):
Mr Dreyfus said the amalgamation and simplification of the five statutes was a “worthy aim”.
“It doesn’t have to happen,” he told Sky News when asked specifically whether the consolidation of the laws was essential.
“It’s a worthy aim to say we are going to make the law simpler, we are going to make the law something that all employers, or workers, the whole community will know to go to just one place.”
He later issued a statement saying the government had always been focused on delivering a bill that consolidates existing laws.
This comes as the government unveiled four options to address concern that the draft consolidation bill would expand the reach of the existing ban in the Racial Discrimination Act on speech that offends, insults and intimidates.
The four options, presented to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs committee, were rejected as inadequate by Simon Breheny, director of the rule of law project for the Institute of Public Affairs.
“The draft bill is fundamentally flawed. Superficial amendments cannot save this deeply flawed proposal,” Mr Breheny said. “Even if one of the proposed amendments is made, the draft bill still reverses the onus of proof. This would make the law unjust and encourage an explosion of litigation.”