LegCo Paper No. HB 731/95-96
Ref : HB/H/5

Legislative Council House Committee
(1995/96 Session)

Minutes of 18th meeting held in the LegCo Chamber
of the Legislative Council Building
on Friday, 16 February 1996 at 2.30 p.m.

Present :

    Dr Hon LEONG Che-hung, OBE, JP (Chairman)
    Hon Ronald ARCULLI, OBE, JP (Deputy Chairman)
    Hon Allen LEE, CBE, JP
    Dr Hon David K P LI, OBE, LLD (Cantab), JP
    Hon SZETO Wah
    Hon Edward S T HO, OBE, JP
    Hon Mrs Miriam LAU Kin-yee, OBE, JP
    Hon CHEUNG Man-kwong
    Hon CHIM Pui-chung
    Hon Frederick FUNG Kin-kee
    Hon Michael HO Mun-ka
    Hon LEE Wing-tat
    Hon Fred LI Wah-ming
    Hon Henry TANG Ying-yen, JP
    Hon James TO Kun-sun
    Dr Hon Samuel WONG Ping-wai, MBE, FEng, JP
    Dr Hon YEUNG Sum
    Hon Zachary WONG Wai-yin
    Hon LEE Cheuk-yan
    Hon CHAN Kam-lam
    Hon CHAN Wing-chan
    Hon CHAN Yuen-han
    Hon Paul CHENG Ming-fun
    Hon CHENG Yiu-tong
    Dr Hon Anthony CHEUNG Bing-leung
    Hon CHOY Kan-pui, JP
    Hon Albert HO Chun-yan
    Hon IP Kwok-him
    Hon LAU Chin-shek
    Hon Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen, JP
    Dr Hon LAW Cheung-kwok
    Hon LAW Chi-kwong
    Hon LEE Kai-ming
    Hon Bruce LIU Sing-lee
    Hon Margaret NG
    Hon NGAN Kam-chuen
    Hon SIN Chung-kai
    Hon TSANG Kin-shing
    Dr Hon John TSE Wing-ling

Absent :

    Hon Mrs Selina CHOW, OBE, JP
    Hon Martin LEE, QC, JP
    Hon NGAI Shiu-kit, OBE, JP
    Hon LAU Wong-fat, OBE, JP
    Hon Albert CHAN Wai-yip
    Dr Hon HUANG Chen-ya, MBE
    Hon Emily LAU Wai-hing
    Hon Eric LI Ka-cheung, JP
    Dr Hon Philip WONG Yu-hong
    Hon Howard YOUNG, JP
    Hon Christine LOH Kung-wai
    Hon James TIEN Pei-chun, OBE, JP
    Hon Andrew CHENG Kar-foo
    Hon CHEUNG Hon-chung
    Hon David CHU Yu-lin
    Hon LEUNG Yiu-chung
    Hon LO Suk-ching
    Hon MOK Ying-fan
    Hon Mrs Elizabeth WONG, CBE, ISO, JP
    Hon Lawrence YUM Sin-ling

In attendance :

    ASG2 (Clerk to the House Committee)



Acting LA










(1) Confirmation of the minutes of the last meeting held on 9.2.96

(LegCo Paper No. HB 678/95-96)

The minutes were confirmed.

(2) Matters arising

(a) Biological Weapons Bill

Mr James TO said that he needed more time to clarify a few points with the Administration. Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill to the next meeting on 1.3.96 or 15.3.96.

(b) Black Point 400 kV Transmission System

The Chairman said that he had conveyed Members’ views to the Chief Secretary regarding ExCo making a decision on the matter in spite of the Panels’ request for a meeting with ExCo Members. The Chief Secretary had responded that there was apparently a breakdown in communication and that the Administration had no intention to ignore LegCo’s view. She would reply in writing. Meanwhile, the Chairman and Miss Christine LOH, chairman of the Environmental Affairs Panel, had written separately to Miss Rosanna WONG, Convenor of the non-official ExCo Members, concerning the matter. Miss LOH’s letter had, inter alia, requested a meeting with ExCo Members.

(c) Display of publicity materials in public places

The Chairman said that the Chief Secretary had promised to examine and improve the system of processing applications for displaying publicity materials. As regards Members’ request that the Administration withhold enforcement action against individual Members’ unauthorized materials currently on display, the Chief Secretary had yet to reply.

(d) Resolution under the Landlord and Tenant (Consolidation) Ordinance proposed by Mr James TO Kun-sun

Mr Edward HO, chairman of the joint meeting of the Panel on Planning, Lands and Works and the Panel on Housing, reported that the Panels had had a meeting on 13.2.96. The Administration had advised that it was currently conducting a comprehensive review on urban renewal. Mr James TO’s resolution which was related to the issue of compensation was part and parcel of the review. Pending the outcome of the review

which would be available in mid-1996, the Administration considered it premature to simply change the basis of compensation by a resolution. The Administration also considered it not appropriate to adopt Mr TO’s proposal of using the rateable value of $90,000 to be the benchmark for calculating the amount of compensation payable to tenants. The Administration was in favour of a more equitable and incremental approach, with a sliding scale of compensation levels. The Members present at the joint Panel meeting had not reached a consensus on the matter but considered it necessary to set up a subcommittee under the House Committee to further study the resolution.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI said that some organizations had expressed their wish to give views on the subject. He suggested and Members agreed that a subcommittee be set up to study the resolution. The following Members agreed to join: Mr Edward S T HO, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr LEE Wing-tat, Mr James TO Kun-sun, Miss CHAN Yuen-han and Mr NGAN Kam-chuen

As Mr James TO indicated that he would give notice to move the resolution on 13.3.96, Members agreed that the Subcommittee should commence its study immediately.

(3) Legal Adviser’s report on the subsidiary legislation tabled in the Legislative Council on 14.2.96

(LegCo Paper No. LS 87/95-96)

Referring Members to the paper, the Acting Legal Adviser said that items (1), (2) and (4) were related to fee increases. Items (1) and (2) proposed increase in fares of tourist tickets for Star Ferry and tram service respectively. Item (4) dealt with car parking fees at the Hong Kong International Airport. The present fees for item (4) were last revised in April 1995 and the proposed increases ranged from 14% to 23%.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI suggested and Members agreed that a Subcommittee be formed to study item (4) of the subsidiary legislation. The following Members agreed to join: Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Mr CHAN Wing-chan, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok and Mr SIN Chung-kai.

Members agreed to support the remaining items of subsidiary legislation.

(4) Position report on Bills Committees and Subcommittees

(LegCo Paper No. HB 697/95-96)

Members noted the report and that the Bills Committee to study the Law Amendment and Reform (Consolidation) (Amendment) Bill 1995 would be activated.

(5) Legal Adviser’s report on bills referred to the House Committee under Standing Order No. 42(3A)

(a) Legal Practitioners (Amendment) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 88/95-96)

The Acting Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the Bill was to put in place a local system of appointment of notaries public before 1997. The drafting aspect of the Bill was in order.

Miss Margaret NG, chairman of the Panel on Administration of Justice and Legal Services, referred Members to a proposal of the Hong Kong Society of Notaries (the Society) that all notaries public should be members of the Society. However, the suggestion was opposed by the Administration. Since the Society had written to her and some Members, the Panel had at its last meeting discussed the subject and agreed that this point should be further pursued with the Administration.

In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI’s question as to whether the proposal of the Society would violate the Bill of Rights, Miss Margaret NG said that the problem was not insurmountable. She said that, as a prerequisite to eligibility to practice, legal practitioners were required to be members of either the Law Society or the Bar Association.

In view of the policy implications of the proposal in the Bill, Mr Albert HO suggested that a Bills Committee be formed to study the Bill. While awaiting the Bills Committee to be activated, the Panel could discuss the Bill. Members agreed.

The following Members agreed to join the Bills Committee: Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr Ambrose LAU Hon-chuen and Miss Margaret NG.

(b) Insurance Companies (Amendment) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 90/95-96)

The Acting Legal Adviser said that the Bill sought to increase the minimum amount of paid-up capital required of an

insurer and the amount of solvency margin to be maintained by an insurer in respect of its general business. The Bill also made provisions to restrict the use of the word "insurance" or "assurance" in business names and to increase the level of fines.

In response to Mr Ronald ARCULLI, the Acting Legal Adviser said that according to the LegCo Brief, the industry had been consulted and had indicated their support. Mr CHIM Pui-chung said that he had no view on the Bill as the industry had not expressed any objection.

As the Legal Service Division was still scrutinizing drafting details of the Bill and would further report to the House Committee, Members agreed to defer a decision on the Bill, pending a further report by the Legal Service Division.

(c) Buildings (Amendment) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 86/95-96)

The Acting Legal Adviser said that the main object of the Bill was to make it easier for the Building Authority to deal with problems in the drains or sewers of private buildings which might result in a landslip or collapse of a retaining wall. The Administration had explained in the LegCo Brief that the amendment was part of a comprehensive package of measures designed to improve slope safety in the wake of the Kwun Lung Lau landslip in July 1994. The drafting aspect of the Bill was in order.

Mr Edward HO was concerned about the new powers granted to the Building Authority. He suggested and Members agreed to set up a Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following Members agreed to join: Mr Edward S T HO, Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Mr IP Kwok-him, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen and Mr TSANG Kin-shing.

(d) Dutiable Commodities (Amendment) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 91/95-96)

The Acting Legal Adviser said that the purpose of the Bill was to implement proposals to provide better and updated provisions for governing trade operation, enforcement action and revenue protection.

As the Bill involved significant amendments to the principal Ordinance and had Bill of Rights implications, the Acting Legal Adviser suggested and Members agreed to set up a

Bills Committee to study the Bill. The following Members agreed to join: Mr Ronald ARCULLI, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr NGAN Kam-chuen and Mr SIN Chung-kai.

(e) Public Bus Services (Amendment) Bill 1996

(LegCo Paper No. LS 89/95-96)

The Acting Legal Adviser drew Members’ attention to the submissions on the Bill from four public bus companies.

In response to Mr SIN Chung-kai, the Acting Legal Adviser said that, as drafted, the Bill would have no retrospective effect because the scale of fares charged by the bus companies could only come into effect on the day it was gazetted.

Mrs Miriam LAU said that under the recently agreed system, a bill which involved policy changes should be referred to a Panel for consideration if the bill had not been considered by the Panel before. She suggested and Members agreed that the policy aspect of the Bill should first be discussed by the Panel.

Mr LAU Chin-shek said that the Bill should, nevertheless, be studied by a Bills Committee. Members agreed that a Bills Committee should be formed and put on the waiting list. The following Members agreed to join: Mrs Miriam LAU, Mr CHAN Kam-lam, Miss CHAN Yuen-han, Mr Albert HO Chun-yan, Mr LAU Chin-shek, Dr LAW Cheung-kwok, Mr Bruce LIU Sing-lee, Mr SIN Chung-kai and Dr John TSE Wing-ling.

(6) Business for the LegCo sitting on 6.3.96

(a) Questions

(LegCo Paper No. CB 488/95-96)

Members noted that no oral questions would be scheduled for 6.3.96 which was the first budget sitting.

The Chairman reminded Members that a number of items of subsidiary legislation would be considered at the sitting on 6.3.96, after the Financial Secretary had delivered his Budget Speech.

(b) Statement

No statement had been notified.

(c) Government Motion

No motion had been notified.

(d) Bill - 1st and 2nd Readings

Appropriation Bill 1996

The Chairman reminded Members of the following briefings relating to the Financial Secretary’s Budget Speech:

  1. Secretary for the Treasury’s briefing for Members on the Draft Estimates of Expenditure 1996-97, to be held at 10.30 am on Friday 1.3.96.
  2. Financial Secretary’s briefing for Members on the 1996-97 Budget to be held at 9.00 am on Friday 8.3.96.

The Acting Legal Adviser said that the Administration had given notice to move a resolution at the sitting on 13.3.96. The purpose of the resolution was to seek LegCo’s approval to authorize partial expenditure by the Government in 1996-97 prior to the enactment of the Appropriation Bill 1996. This was a routine annual exercise. The resolution would be considered at the House Committee meeting to be held on 1.3.96.

(7) Reports by Panels/Bills Committees/Subcommittees

(a) Report by the Bills Committee to study the Gas Safety (Amendment) (No. 2) Bill 1995

(LegCo Paper No. HB 663/95-96)

Mr Ronald ARCULLI reported on behalf of Dr Samuel WONG, chairman of the Bills Committee who was not at the meeting. The Bills Committee recommended that the Second Reading debate of the Bill be resumed on 13.3.96. Members agreed.

(b) Report by the Subcommittee to study eight items of subsidiary legislation tabled in LegCo on 24.1.96 and one item of subsidiary legislation tabled in LegCo on 7.2.96

Mr Ronald ARCULLI, deputy chairman of the Subcommittee, reported as follows:

  1. Five Regulations on Land Registration Fees

    Some Members of the Subcommittee had yet to come to a position on these items. One more meeting might need to be held.

  2. Ferry Services (The "Star" Ferry Company Limited) (Determination of Fares) (Amendment) Order 1996

    The Subcommittee agreed to repeal the Order. Members of the Democratic Party would consider moving a motion to amend the rate of the proposed monthly ticket for commuting between Hung Hom and Edinburgh Place.

  3. Aerial Ropeways (Fees) (Amendment) Regulation 1996

    The Subcommittee agreed to support the Regulation.

  4. Lifts and Escalators (Safety) (Fees) (Amendment) Regulation 1996

    The Subcommittee agreed to repeal the Regulation.

  5. Minor Employment Claims Adjudication Board (Fees) (Amendment) Rules 1996

    The Subcommittee agreed to repeal the Rules.

A written report would be submitted for the House Committee meeting to be held on 1.3.96.

The Chairman advised Members that the deadline for giving notice to move a motion to repeal or amend any of the above items at the sitting on 6.3.96 would be 28.2.96. In view of the number of divisions likely to be claimed on these motions, he suggested and Members agreed that he move a procedural motion to shorten to one minute the duration of the division bell in respect of any such divisions.

(c) Reports by the Subcommittee on Procedural Matters

(i) Shortening of the duration of the division bell - draft amendments to the Standing Orders

(LegCo Paper No. HB 687/95-96)

Members endorsed the draft amendments to the Standing Orders which aimed at giving effect to the

proposal which had previously been endorsed by the House Committee and tried out at two sittings.

(ii) Handling of questions requiring an oral reply at a LegCo sitting

(LegCo Paper No. CB 482/95-96)

Members endorsed the recommendation of the Subcommittee as follows:

    - if a Member was not present to ask the question at the time his/her name was called and had not made prior arrangements, the question would be deemed to be withdrawn;

    - if the Member had given consent to another Member to ask the question in his/her absence, the question would be recorded in the name of the Member who asked it at the sitting. For the purpose of the queuing system, the absent Member, instead of the Member who actually asked the question, would be regarded as having asked one oral question.

Members noted that a Member who wished to make prior arrangements had to notify the Secretariat any time before the sitting of the manner in which the question was to be handled.

In response to Mr Zachary WONG, the Chairman agreed to discuss with the President and the Chief Secretary regarding arrangements in the event a public officer designated to answer a question was not present at the time the question was asked.

(iii) Members’ dress code for sittings of the Council and committees

(LegCo Paper No. HB 695/95-96)

The Chairman introduced the paper which sought Members’ view on whether to adopt an honour dress code i.e. jacket and tie for male Members and comparable standard of attire for female Members, at sittings of the Council and open meetings of committees, except on Saturdays. He said that the President had indicated that any dress code, if agreed, should also apply to urgent sittings held on weekends.

Mr LAU Chin-shek said that, having regard to Members’ different working environment and the different target groups they served, it would be difficult for all Members to follow the proposed dress code. He would personally adhere to the proposed dress code at sittings of the Council including the Governor’s Question Time and at committee meetings of which he was the chairman, but not necessarily at other committee meetings. He also reflected an absent Member’s view that strict compliance with the proposed code would pose practical difficulties for the Member who should be given more time to adjust. He hoped that some flexibility could be adopted in observing the dress code.

The Chairman said that the proposed dress code, if agreed, would only be an honour code for Members. In response to Miss Margaret NG, the Chairman said that the reference to "informal dress code" in paragraph 4 of the paper should be "honour dress code".

A few Members felt that the proposed dress code was not necessary since it was not enforceable and the present standard of Members’ attire was not unacceptable.

Mr Albert HO Chun-yan said that the President should have the discretion to remove from the Council a Member who dressed improperly. Mr LEE Wing-tat pointed out that even if such a power was not provided for in the SOs, the President might be guided by the practice and procedure of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom as provided for under SO No 69.

In response to the Chairman, the Acting Legal Adviser said that SO No 69 stipulated that "In any matter not provided for in the SOs, the practice and procedure to be followed in the Council shall be such as may be decided by the President who may, if he thinks fit, be guided by the practice and procedure of the House of Commons of the United Kingdom". However, the President did not have the discretion to order the removal of a Member from the Council on the basis of attire unless the Member’s attire was grossly inappropriate. Under SO No 34(2), the President or the chairman of any standing or select committee could order a Member whose conduct was grossly disorderly to withdraw from the Council or the committee. In further response to the Chairman, he

said that although not specifically provided for in the SOs, chairmen of other committees of the Council could exercise similar discretion.

Mr LEE Cheuk-yan said that the basic requirement for acceptable attire should be neatness, cleanliness and decency, and that the form of the attire was not important. His view was echoed by some Members.

Miss Margaret NG said that the spirit of the proposal was to enable the President or chairmen of committees to exercise their discretion on the standard of dress at sittings of the Council and committees on the basis of a dress code agreed by Members. Judging from Members’ views expressed so far, it would appear that Members did not have a consensus as to what constituted a Members’ dress code.

Mr LEE Wing-tat and Mrs Miriam LAU suggested that the Subcommittee further look into the matter to see if the President should be given discretion on the standard of dress in the Chamber under the SOs, similar to the Speakers in some overseas Parliaments.

In view of Members’ divergent views on the proposal, the Chairman agreed that the Subcommittee study the matter further in consultation with the President.

(d) Observations by the LegCo Panel on Home Affairs on the 13th Periodic Report on Hong Kong under the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination

(LegCo Paper No. PL 818/95-96)

Mr Albert HO, chairman of the Panel, introduced the report and sought the House Committee’s endorsement of the submission to the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (UNCERD) and its advice on whether a delegation of the House Committee should be sent to attend the hearing to be held in Geneva on 3 and 4 March 1996. He said that Mrs Elizabeth WONG had agreed to join the delegation if one was formed.

Members endorsed the submission as a House Committee submission and agreed that a House Committee delegation be sent to attend the hearing. The Secretariat would issue a circular to invite other interested Members to join the delegation. A staff member from LegCo London Office would accompany the delegation. As regards budget for the delegation, it should be the same as that endorsed for the last delegation to Geneva.

(Post-meeting note: The budget for each Member joining the delegation should not exceed $20,000 and the ceiling for the entire delegation should be $100,000.)

In response to Mr LEE Wing-tat’s suggestion that the budget for Members’ overseas delegations should be standardized. The Chairman agreed that The Legislative Council Commission be invited to consider this.

(8) Any Other Business

(a) Draft House Committee Position Paper on issues to be raised by Members’ delegation to London on 26-27 February 1996

(LegCo Paper No. HB 706/95-96)

The Chairman referred Members to the Position Paper at Appendix I and the two replies from the Foreign Secretary at Appendix II. He could not agree with the Foreign Secretary’s reply that the Vietnamese boat people (VBP) issue was a Hong Kong problem and the policy decision on it was made solely by Hong Kong. He had requested the Secretariat to look up the Hansard for background information such as the Administration’s responses during previous motion debates on the subject in the Council, so that Members could discuss further if necessary.

Assistant Secretary General 2 suggested and Members agreed to add in the draft Position Paper Members’ position that the VBP issue was not a domestic problem and the British Government had responsibilities for any decision made by Hong Kong with the approval of Britain as the sovereign power.

(b) UK Prime Minister’s visit to Hong Kong on 3-4 March 1996

The Chairman said that, at his meeting with the Members’ delegation to London on 12.2.96, the Governor had advised that the Prime Minister had proposed to meet the delegation in Hong Kong on 4.3.96 from 11.15 am to 12.15 pm.

All the Members present agreed to request that the Prime Minister should meet all interested Members and the meeting should be held in public in the LegCo Building.

The Chairman undertook to convey Members’ request to the Governor. Members agreed to discuss further details of the proposed meeting at the next House Committee meeting to be held on 1.3.96.

(Post-meeting note: The letter to the Governor was issued immediately after this meeting.)

(c) Proposed independent inquiry into the Pat Sin Range hill fire on 10.2.96

Mrs Selina CHOW’s additional note dated 15.2.96, which had been sent to Members by fax on 15.2.96, was tabled at the meeting (Appendix I).

Mrs Miriam LAU introduced the subject on behalf of Mrs CHOW who was not at the meeting. She said that Mrs CHOW’s proposal that the Governor appoint an independent person to head an inquiry into the incident was not meant to identify the parties which should be held responsible, but rather to identify and recommend improvement measures to prevent recurrence of similar incidents.

The Chairman advised Members that the Government had set up an inter-departmental investigation team and that the Governor had already rejected the call for an independent inquiry.

Mr Zachary WONG said that Mrs CHOW’s proposal had been discussed by the Panel on Security on 12.2.96. The Panel had agreed to await the outcome of the Government’s investigation which would be available in about mid-March, before giving further consideration to Mrs CHOW’s proposal. Dr YEUNG Sum said that the various Government departments had appeared to have taken prompt and effective follow-up actions on the incident. As for the areas in which further improvements might be necessary, it was up to the individual Panels to take up with the Administration.

Mr Edward HO reminded Members that independent inquiries had been conducted on similar cases in the past, i.e. one by a LegCo Select Committee on the Kwun Lung Lau incident and another by an independent person appointed by the Governor on the Lan Kwai Fong Disaster.

Mr Ronald ARCULLI pointed out that an independent inquiry, as compared to an inter-departmental investigation, would provide greater transparency and enhance the credibility of the findings.

Miss Margaret NG said that this case was different from the Kwun Lung Lau incident and the Lan Kwai Fong Disaster as possible negligence was involved in the latter two cases. She was inclined to support the view that an independent inquiry was not required for this case. She urged Members to consider the resource implications involved and the implications on the survivors of the incident if they were required to give evidence during the inquiry.

In response to Mr Edward HO’s comments that negligence was not involved in the Lan Kwai Fong Disaster, Mr IP Kwok-him said that the problem of crowd control in the event of large public gatherings in the area had been raised by the Central and Western District Board before the disaster occurred.

Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong suggested that Members decide on the next step after considering the Government’s investigation report which would be available soon. In any event, even if an independent inquiry was eventually agreed to, it would be some time before it could start working. His view was echoed by some Members.

A vote was taken on Mrs Selina CHOW’s proposal (i.e. to request the Governor to appoint an independent inquiry immediately). Two Members voted in support of the proposal, 15 Members voted against it and there were three abstentions. The Chairman declared that the proposal was not supported.

The Chairman referred Members to a note from Mr LEUNG Yiu-chung proposing that a letter of condolence, jointly signed by all Members, be sent to the school and the families of the victims of the hill fire at Pat Sin Range. The note was tabled at the meeting (Appendix II).

In view of the difficulty in getting all Members to sign such a letter before the Chinese New Year holidays and the need to issue the letter as soon as possible, Dr YEUNG Sum suggested and Members agreed that a letter to the school, signed by the Chairman on behalf of all Members, be sent .

(Post-meeting note: The letter was delivered to the school after the meeting by kindness of Mr CHEUNG Man-kwong.)

(d) Verbal report on fact-finding visit to Australia and New Zealand to study implementation of legislative provisions to deal with age discrimination in employment

Mr LEE Cheuk-yan reported that he and Mrs Elizabeth WONG and a Research Officer from the Secretariat participated in the fact-finding visit to New South Wales in Australia and New Zealand during 22-27 January 1996. They had met representatives from the following organizations:

Department of Ageing and Disability *

Anti-Discrimination Board *

Human Rights Commission #

Employers Association #

Youth Law Project #

Auckland Mature Employment Service #

Equal Employment Opportunities Trust #

Council of Trade Unions #

Department of Labour #

In addition, Mrs Elizabeth WONG had paid a visit to the Office of the Race Relations Councillor in New Zealand. Her supplementary report on the visit was tabled at the meeting (Appendix III).

Mr LEE said that the age discrimination legislation in New Zealand had only come into effect in 1994. The legislation made it unlawful for employers to use age as a criterion to judge a person’s performance or to make recruitment decision, e.g. no reference should be made to age in job application forms or interviews, no reference should be made to the number of years of experience required for a job in an advertisement and, in this regard, the newspaper was the censorship authority. To sum up, he had the following observations:

  1. the number of complaint cases was small, the main reason being that age discrimination was difficult to prove;
  2. the objective of the legislation was not to punish, but rather to educate, people. The employer organizations were of the view that getting the best person by adopting an open attitude during job interviews could eventually save money. To ensure that they would not be in breach of the legislation, they had requested specific guidelines to be issued by the relevant authority for their reference; and
  3. as the Human Rights Commission was responsible for investigating and resolving complaints of unlawful discrimination, it was important for such a commission to be set up as the administering body.

Mr LEE said that a detailed report on the visit prepared by the Research and Library Services Division would be ready in early March.

(e) Time for House Committee meeting on 1.3.96

Members noted that the House Committee meeting on 1.3.96 would start at 2.30 pm.

The meeting ended at 4.38 pm.

Legislative Council Secretariat
28 February 1996

* -- New South Wales
# -- New Zealand

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