In criticising the ACT Human Rights Commission's contribution to the consultation process on the draft Religious Discrimination Act ('Human Rights Commissioner wrong on religion bill: A-G', October 11, p16), the Attorney General appears to be responding to The Canberra Times' reporting on our submission without having read the submission itself.
As the ACT Discrimination Act already protects people in the ACT from discrimination and vilification on the basis of religious belief, we are one of the few jurisdictions with practical experience of the range of issues that are raised under discrimination law about religious belief and practice. Our submission sought to provide this practical experience to the Attorney General to assist in considering this complex issue.
Our submission did not make the assertions attributed to us by the Attorney General. Rather, we noted, as have many submissions, genuine community concerns about the draft bill creating an enabling environment for discrimination against people because of their disability, marital status, religion or gender identity. The experiences of members of our community, as reflected in our submission, should inform the government's consideration of the draft bill rather than being automatically dismissed.
Karen Toohey, ACT Discrimination Commissioner, and Helen Watchirs, ACT Human Rights Commissioner
The tides are turning
I was interested to read the letter of "lefty leaning voter" Kim Fitzgerald (Letters, October 6) in relation to the "up my nose" performance of the Barr government, the "non-flexible" light rail system, the legalisation of cannabis and the "limited real world experience" of Liberal Leader Alastair Coe.
As a normally lefty leaning voter myself I voted Liberal for the first time in 2016 because of my disgust at the continuing arrogance of the ACT government and its outrageous policies (which now includes legalising cannabis) and more importantly, the introduction of the expensive and unnecessary light rail system. However, I have since been converted in relation to the light rail and absolutely love it as a quick, comfortable and more efficient way to travel from Gungahlin to the city compared to the previous bus travel.
I concur with Ms/Mr Fitzgerald's views of Liberal leader Alastair Coe. While Mr Coe may be an affable and decent citizen he certainly does not come across as foreman material to lead an ACT government with his boyish appearance and unsophisticated interview style. Despite this, I still intend to vote Liberal for the second time at the next ACT election (while Mr Barr is still in the job) but do hope the ACT Liberals consider selecting a leader that is more credible and experienced. Only then can they hope to topple Andrew Barr and his government from power. I look forward to that day.
Sebastian Cole, Ngunnawal
Protest is part of the process
The government is suggesting that protesters who are unemployed should have their benefits cut. This may be a passing thought bubble prompted by the splutterings of radio shock jocks, but it is unfortunately consistent with the government's authoritarian tendencies. How will they enforce the policy? Will they use their new facial recognition technologies and the new national ID database to chase you up at home after the event? Australia has a long history of protest as a legitimate part of the democratic process, whether it's about equal rights for women, civil rights of Indigenous people, fair wages and decent conditions for workers, or conscription and wars. Let's not forget these protesters were also at one time or another branded trouble-makers or unpatriotic.
Kristine Klugmam (Civil Liberties Australia president), Fisher
Make it something great
I read the article by Scott Prasser in the Canberra Times ('Parliament House: the bubble in the Canberra bubble', October 8).
This "bunker" of a building, isolated under Capital Hill, is hidden from the Australian public as if it's got something to hide!
The shortcomings inside that cavity has been well described by the author, being also concerned about the poor health conditions. The vast Nullarbor caves I have visited offer a much healthier climate. My suggestion is: Let's build a new Parliament House on top of City Hill, above ground, as a proud architecturally pleasing building, for all to see - why not something similar to the wonderful Opera House in Sydney!
Erwin Feeken, Bywong
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