Date: 7 February 2022
Tribunal: Queensland Industrial Relations Commission
Tribunal Member: Merrell DP
Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) Sections: ss 13, 15, 58
Rights Considered: Recognition and equality before the law
Other Legislation: Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 ss 7, 14, 15, 15A, 113 and 127.
Keywords: Discrimination

This case concerned an application for the renewal of an exemption of specific provisions of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld). The Tribunal granted an extension of the exemption for an additional three years and noted that the exemption was compatible with human rights pursuant to the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld).

Protech Personnel Pty Ltd (‘Protech’) was previously awarded a two-year exemption from the operation of subsections 14, 15, 15A and 127 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld) in relation to s 7(a) in 2019: at [3]. In its renewal application, Protech submitted, inter alia, that women only accounted for 12% of the construction industry workforce, and Protech had collaborated with clients in Queensland in the development of programs to address the underrepresentation of women in construction to promote industry growth and safe workplaces. Protech submitted that it was partnering with a company (‘Roadtek’) to do a targeted recruitment drive to increase female representation.

The Tribunal, following its own earlier decision in Re:Ipswich City Council, acknowledged that the Commission would be bound by section 58 of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) as it was acting as a public entity in deciding whether to grant an exemption under section 113 of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 (Qld).

In considering whether to grant the exception, the Tribunal identified that granting the exception may affect the right to recognition and equality before the law (section 15) of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld): at [22]. The Tribunal considered that if that right was affected by the granting of the exemption, there was no need to consider whether the granting of the exemption was reasonable and justified pursuant to section 13(2) of the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld); a measure taken pursuant to section 15(5) was recognised to not be discrimination within the meaning of sections 15(3) or (4).

The Tribunal was satisfied that the exemption did not limit human rights and granted the exception for a further three years: at [35].

Visit the judgement: Re: Protech Personnel Pty Ltd [2022] QIRC 029