In September last year, the Attorney-General's Department released a Discussion paper on the CONSOLIDATION OF COMMONWEALTH ANTI–DISCRIMINATION LAWS.
Discussion paper may be download from:
The following quotes are taken from the paper.
- Commonwealth anti-discrimination law is currently found in four separate pieces of legislation, each of which deals with different grounds of discrimination:
- Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA)
- Sex Discrimination Act 1984 (SDA)
- Disability Discrimination Act 1992 (DDA), and
- Age Discrimination Act 2004 (ADA)
- "The current Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws have been drafted over a period of nearly 40 years and consequently there are significant differences in the drafting and coverage of protections under each Act.
These differences range from definitional inconsistencies to more significant issues such as different approaches to the tests for discrimination and to provisions relating to vicarious liability. Many of these differences are unnecessary and add to the complexity and regulatory burden of the legislation. We also have the benefit of 40 years experience with antidiscrimination legislation to consider if there are more appropriate mechanisms to describe and address discrimination in areas of public life."
- The Government has decided, as part of Australia’s Human Rights Framework and as a Better Regulation Ministerial Partnership between the Attorney-General and the Minister for Finance and Deregulation, to consolidate existing Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation into a single, comprehensive law.
As part of this project, the Government is also delivering on its commitment to introduce new prohibitions on discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. In addition, the Government has also committed to consider, as part of this project, a number of the recommendations made by the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee in its inquiry into the effectiveness of the SDA.
The Government has made it clear that this exercise will not lead to a reduction in existing protections in federal anti-discrimination legislation. In considering options for reform, the Government will keep the following principles in mind:
- a reduction in complexity and inconsistency in regulation to make it easier for individuals and business to understand rights and obligations under the legislation
- no reduction in existing protections in federal anti-discrimination legislation
- ensuring simple, cost-effective mechanisms for resolving complaints of discrimination, and
- clarifying and enhancing protections where appropriate.
The discussion paper raises a number of questions around the existing framework, including a number of technical issues around the operation of the legislation."
The Government invited comments on the issues raised in this discussion paper from organisations and individuals with an interest in the consolidation of Commonwealth anti-discrimination law, and submissions were requested no later than 1 February 2012.
The submissions will inform the development of exposure draft legislation, which will be released for further public consultation in early 2012.
The Celebrants Network Inc prepared a response to the discussion paper, especially in regard to the way that:
- The Marriage Act 1961, Regulations and Marriage Program discriminate against independent civil and non-aligned religious marriage celebrants and the marrying public who choose to be married by independent celebrants
- The Discussion Paper failed to address the issue of discrimination on "no religious belief", especially given the multi-cultural and secular nature of the Australian community.
Celebrants are encourged to respond to the next Public Consultation in a few months time