NSW Attorney-General John Hatzistergos and Human Rights Commissioner Graeme Innes have labelled the country’s anti-discrimination protections inconsistent and often inadequate, and want them fixed.
At a meeting of Attorneys-General last Friday, Hatzistergos again pushed for the rest of the country to adopt his state’s scheme.
NSW currently has one of the strong-est anti-discrimination regimes in the country. In working towards uniformity, we will be asking for a national approach that adopts the protections that currently exist under NSW law, his spokesman said. The process will not involve winding back any protections.
This would spare individuals from having to navigate a patchwork of protections across states, territories and federal jurisdiction, he added.
But Commissioner Innes said the process of harmonisation across states was a long and complicated one, and the first priority should be to fix the gaps and inconsistencies in federal anti-discrimination acts, particularly the lack of one covering sexuality.
Moving to state consistency is a good goal to have, but a federal sexuality discrimination act would be consistent across the country, he said.
Innes was surprised there weren’t more complaints to the Australian Human Rights Commission of discrimination on the basis of sexuality and gender identity. There was a lot of it out there, he said, particularly in employment situations.
This comes as victims of anti-gay discrimination will soon have a national website to turn to for information on the different protections and procedures in each state and territory.
The new National Anti-Discrimination Information Gateway is expected to be ready early next year following an agreement on Friday by the states and territories towards harmonising of anti-discrimination laws.
This one-stop shop will make it easier and simpler for individuals and businesses to get information on human rights and the relevant anti-discrimination commission, Federal Attorney-General Robert McClelland said.