1177. Hon CHARLES SMITH to the Leader of the House
representing the Attorney General:
I refer to Christian wedding
photographer Jason Tey, who was taken to the Western Australian Equal
Opportunity Commission after agreeing to
photograph the children of a same-sex couple but having disclosed a conflict of
(1) How much does
it cost the Western Australian taxpayer to fund the WA Equal Opportunity
Commission on an annual basis?
(2) How many
complaints did the WA Equal Opportunity Commission receive last year?
(3) What is the point of the WA Equal Opportunity
Commission when a federal body performs a similar function?
(4) Why is the WA
taxpayer funding a zealot within the commission who would persecute a Christian
for having thoughts they object to?
The PRESIDENT: Leader of the
House, you are obviously going to answer that question. I do not think you need
to answer the final part of the question because it is seeking an opinion that
you obviously cannot provide.
Thank you, Madam President. Can I say
at the start, on behalf of the government, that I object to a public servant
being described in that fashion.
I thank the member for some notice
of the question.
(1) The published
Budget Statements 2018–19 show a total appropriation of $3.802
million for that year for the Equal Opportunity Commission.
(2) In 2017–18,
there were 472 new complaints, as published in the annual report for that year.
Australian Human Rights Commission deals with complaints made under
commonwealth laws that prohibit various kinds of discrimination. Those laws can
deal only with matters within the legislative power of the commonwealth.
Further, those laws reflect the legislative judgement of the commonwealth
Parliament about the kinds of discrimination that should be unlawful and the
recourse that a person should have if they believe they have been unlawfully
discriminated against. The Equal Opportunity Commission deals with complaints
made under the Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act 1984, which deals with
matters within the state's legislative power and reflects the judgement
of this Parliament on those matters. This Parliament does not have identical
powers to the commonwealth's and does not always take the same approach
as the commonwealth Parliament. Every other state also has its own
anti-discrimination laws and its own counterpart to the Equal Opportunity
(4) I have an
answer to part (4), although I note that this part of the question was out of
The role of the Equal Opportunity
Commission is to accept complaints and attempt to conciliate them. If a complaint
is not conciliated, it can be referred to the State Administrative Tribunal.
The Public Sector Commissioner's circular 2009–27, ''Complaints
Management'', requires all agencies, including the commission, to have
in place a complaints management system that conforms to the principle of the
Australian standard on complaints handling. Alternatively, complaints can be
lodged with the Public Sector Commission, which has the power to investigate
complaints of misconduct by public officers, including officers employed by the