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Gillard government misleads public over proposed anti-discrimination law

“The Gillard government has misled the public over proposed changes to anti-discrimination law,” said Simon Breheny, Director of the Legal Rights Project at the free market think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Attorney-General’s Department has made a written submission to the Senate inquiry into the exposure draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012, along with over 400 other individuals and organisations, including the Institute of Public Affairs. The exposure draft of the Bill was referred to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee on 21 November 2012. The committee is expected to report by 18 February 2013.

“With this submission to the inquiry the Gillard government has misled the public about the dangerous provisions contained within the exposure draft legislation. The Gillard government is now actively defending a massive threat to freedom of speech,” said Mr Breheny.

Analysis undertaken by the IPA has uncovered several inaccuracies in the submission:

  • The claim that the exposure draft would have “minimal regulatory impact” is grossly misleading. Several aspects of the exposure draft will result in an increase in discrimination litigation and compliance costs
  • The suggestion that these changes will “simplify the law” does not correspond with the complex nature of a reverse burden of proof and a subjective test for discrimination, both included in the exposure draft
  • The submission also misleads the public by comparing the exposure draft with current discrimination provisions under the Fair Work Act 2009 because the proposed definition for discrimination has been radically expanded under the exposure draft.

“The exposure draft is a radical attempt by the Gillard government to control the lives of Australians. The Coalition should immediately oppose the exposure draft and commit to repealing it in government,” said Mr Breheny.

To download a copy of the Institute of Public Affairs’ submission visit: freedomwatch.ipa.org.au

For media and comment: Simon Breheny, Director, Legal Rights Project, 0400 967 382

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