Concerns NSW complaints process 'misused'

Robert Borsak says there are individuals misusing the complaints process for personal vendettas.
Robert Borsak says there are individuals misusing the complaints process for personal vendettas.

An upper house parliamentary committee has recommended an overhaul of NSW's anti-discrimination act, raising concerns the current framework is being used for personal vendettas.

The committee, chaired by Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party MP Robert Borsak, on Friday tabled its report into the Anti-Discrimination Amendment (Complaint Handling) Bill 2020.

The report raised concerns some people are using the complaints process "inappropriately" in situations where they may not have been impacted or where acts of potential discrimination are not even occurring in NSW.

"In my view, there are individuals misusing the complaints process for personal vendettas, with the President of the Anti-Discrimination Board lacking the powers to prevent this," Mr Borsak said in the report.

"Vexatious litigants are abusing the complaints process and in doing so are wasting taxpayers' resources unnecessarily."

Mr Borsak raised concerns about the unfair pressure this places on respondents and how such behaviour goes against the principles of fairness the anti-discrimination legislation aims to achieve.

The committee - made up of two Labor and two Liberal MPs and one each from the Nationals, Greens and One Nation - says approvements could be made to minimise the potential abuse of the complaints process.

It made seven recommendations including that government update and modernise the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977.

"The recommendations made by the committee aim to prevent the complaints process being abused and to prevent vexatious complaints from proceeding down a path to be investigated, utilising unnecessary resources and unfairly impacting respondents," Mr Borsak said in a statement on Friday.

The committee also recommended the Anti-Discrimination Board president be allowed to decline complaints found to be frivolous, vexatious or lacking in substance.

Deputy chair and Greens MP David Shoebridge says in his dissenting statement the report does not reflect the balance of evidence heard or the best available expert information.

"There is a very real danger posed by this bill that it will significantly limit access to remedies for people and communities who are being seriously discriminated against," he said.

In a statement released after the report's publication, Mr Shoebridge said he refused to endorse it.

"This report adopts the basic premise of the hard right on seeing remedies for discrimination as the problem, not the discrimination itself," he said on Friday.

"We can amend the laws to slightly improve the ability to respond to vexatious complainants but to revise the entire system to respond to overblown complaints from the far right is reckless overkill."

Australian Associated Press