COMMONWEALTH SILENCE ON GAY DISCRIMINATION TELLING
The Prime Minister appeared to have failed at the first hurdle in his attempt to prove that he was interested in removing discrimination against same-sex couples, with reports that federal departments and agencies had been instructed not to make submissions into an inquiry by the federal Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said today.
“Earlier this month, when the Federal Government made shameful history by overturning the ACT’s Civil Unions legislation, senior Government figures were keen to have Australians believe that they were not motivated by anti-homosexual sentiment,” Mr Stanhope said today. “And the Prime Minister himself has said on more than one occasion that he is in favour of removing discrimination on a case-by-case basis.
“Yet when his own statutory body charged with inquiring into discrimination decides to examine residual areas of financial discrimination against same-sex couples in this country, it seems the Federal Government is not even interested in knowing what the facts are, or whether the Federal Government itself might be a part of the problem, rather than a part of the solution.
“It is curious, to say the least, for any government to issue a blanket instruction to its departments and agencies not to make a submission to any HREOC inquiry at all, but most particularly to an inquiry looking at an issue upon which the Prime Minister wants Australians to believe he is active.
“It is interesting that the Federal Government has not been so reticent in the past in making submissions to HREOC inquiries. The Department of Workplace Relations, for example, was happy to make a submission to the ‘Striking the Balance’ inquiry into work-life balance and the Commonwealth Government made a submission into the ‘Stolen Generations’ inquiry, just to name two.
“I wonder if there has been any previous occasion upon which departments and agencies have received a blanket instruction not to cooperate with a HREOC investigation?”
Mr Stanhope said that in light of these reports, the ACT Government, which had so recently been witness to the Federal Government’s true and deepest feelings on the rights and entitlements of gay and lesbian Australians, was entitled to question the Prime Minister’s repeated assertions that he was committed to non-discrimination.
“Actions, not rhetoric, are what counts in this debate, and the Federal Government’s actions tell the true story,” Mr Stanhope said.