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Anti-Discrimination Act Changes are Dangerous

Media Release - Wednesday, 21 September 2016, Cassy O'Connor MP


Cassy O'Connor MP | Greens Leader 

The removal of the word ‘reasonably’ from the final draft of proposed amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 is proof that Premier, Will Hodgman, is being driven by the hard Right in his Party, just like his Federal colleague, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

In all the Premier’s statements prior to the tabling of the amendment Bill yesterday and in correspondence from the Department of Justice to the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, it is clear that the inclusion of a reasonableness test was intended to be included in an attempt to soften the blow of changes to the Act.

It was the one change supported by the Anti-Discrimination Commissioner in her scathing critique of the proposed amendments during the sham consultation process. 

Ms Banks’ submission is clear that – while she regards the proposed changes as dangerous – the inclusion of the reasonableness test would have brought Tasmanian law into line with similar provisions in Queensland, New South Wales, Victoria, the ACT and the Commonwealth.

In the amendment Bill tabled yesterday, the world ‘reasonably’ had been removed.  Why?  The Premier could not, would not, answer this question in Parliament today.

The Premier has, again, been rolled by the extreme Right in his Cabinet in a clear sign he is in the same bind as the Prime Minister.

The exemption provided on religious grounds in the amendment Bill will send a dangerous message out into the community that it is acceptable to use homophobic, racist, bigoted, sexist and other hurtful language towards minorities in our community. 

These changes are not supported by LGBTI advocates, the Mental Health Council of Tasmania, the Law Society of Tasmania, the Women’s Legal Service, Community Legal Centres, advocates for multicultural communities and even church leaders.

This weakening of protections under Tasmanian law is a dangerous and cynical move, driven by opponents of marriage equality who still haven’t been able to articulate what it is they might want to say about LGBTI people that they can’t say already.