Review into an appropriate cost model for Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws
The submission to the Attorney-General’s Department (AGD) in response to its Consultation paper: Review into an appropriate cost model for Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws (Consultation paper)1, was prepared by the Law Council of Australia.
The Law Council acknowledges the Australian Government’s significant progress on the implementation of the Australian Human Rights Commission’s (AHRC’s) Respect@Work Report of 2020.2 The Law Council has supported the reforms made to date to implement the recommendations of the Respect@Work Report.3 However, it is not currently in a position to support any of the proposed models for reform of the cost model for Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws, as a potential means to respond to recommendation 25 of that Report.
The Law Council has received a range of views from its Constituent Bodies and practitioners on its Section and advisory committees on how, or whether, to proceed with reform in this area.
Many practitioners are of the view that the proposed cost neutrality models raise access to justice concerns, on the basis that those models would make legal representation harder for parties to secure.
The two options that attracted the most support from the profession are the equal access model and maintaining the status quo. The advantages and disadvantages of each option raised by practitioners are discussed in the submission.
1 AGD, Consultation paper: Review into an appropriate cost model for Commonwealth anti-discrimination laws, February 2023: <https://consultations.ag.gov.au/rights-and-protections/cost-model-anti-discrimination-laws/user_uploads/discussion-paper-review-appropriate-cost-model-commonwealth-anti-discrimination-laws.pdf>.
2 Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), Respect@Work: National Inquiry into Sexual Harassment in Australian Workplaces (Report, March 2020) <https://humanrights.gov.au/our-work/sex-discrimination/publications/respectwork-sexual-harassment-national-inquiry-report-2020>.
3 See eg Law Council of Australia, Respect@Work bill an important milestone, Media Release, 29 November 2022: <https://www.lawcouncil.asn.au/media/media-releases/respect-at-work-bill-an-important-milestone>.
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