Submission: In relation to the consolidation of Federal Discrimination Laws

This is the second submission of NACLC and other CLCs in relation to the consolidation of federal discrimination legislation. 


Our views in summary

  • The aim of any consolidation of federal discrimination law should be to promote substantive equality within the Australian community and to enshrine Australia's international human rights obligations into domestic law. The preamble to the Act should reflect this intention.
  • The international human rights instruments that Australia is a party to should be annexed to the Equality Act - namely the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD), the Convention on the Elimination of all forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CPRD). 
  • The government should consolidate the current federal discrimination legislation into an Equality Act. 
  • The government's anti-discrimination law consolidation project should not reduce current protections against discrimination contained in federal legislation. 
  • The consolidation project should aim to decrease the complexity of the law and make the law more accessible to people affected by discrimination.
  • The government should adopt the uniform definition put forward by the revised report by the Discrimination Law Experts' Roundtable.
  • The unified definition should include at (b) in the revised definition the words 'relevant circumstances'.
  • The burden of proof should shift so that once a prima facie case has been raised by the complainant, the respondent must prove that the conduct was justified and not unlawful (consistent with section 136 of the Equality Act 2010 (UK) and section 361 of the Fair Work Act 2009 (Cth).