Member for Mulgrave, Curtis Pitt, says the Newman Government should use International Guide Dog Day tomorrow to keep a promise to amend the law covering guide, hearing and assistance dogs.
“The Minister for Disability Services, Tracy Davis, promised a review of the law this year to remove any ambiguity about allowing guide, hearing, or assistance dogs to stay with their owners in holiday or other short-term accommodation,” Mr Pitt said.
“But Ms Davis has so far not kept her promise to pick up and pass law changes I ensured were put before State Parliament by the former government but which lapsed when the 2012 election was called.
“Tomorrow is International Guide Dog Day and it is the perfect opportunity for the Minister to unveil her plans to keep her promise.”
Mr Pitt said in his former role as Minister for Disability Services he ensured amendments to the Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act were drafted and put before Parliament which would have put beyond doubt that it is an offence to refuse accommodation to people with guide, hearing, or assistance dogs.
“I took this action after deputations from Atherton resident Geoff Skinner and Vision Australia about the need to clarify provisions of the law,” he said.
“In 2010 Mr Skinner lodged a complaint under the Act after being refused holiday accommodation on the Gold Coast because he was accompanied by his guide dog.
“He later received legal advice that the Act as it stood did not cover the particular accommodation — a private holiday rental advertised on a website — and he would need to take a civil action under anti-discrimination legislation.
“Mr Skinner pursued his complaint through the Anti-Discrimination Commission in the Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal and was awarded $13,000 damages, although the matter is now subject to an appeal application.”
Mr Pitt said after Mr Skinner raised the issue with him as then Minister, he had law changes drafted but they had lapsed once the election was called.
“Since then Mr Skinner has written to Minister Davis twice and has not received a satisfactory answer,” he said.
“I have also written to the Minister and she promised to move on the amendments this year.
“We need to ensure people aren’t denied accommodation in the first place – they shouldn’t be turned away and forced to seek redress later on.
“By then it’s too late, and the amendments I proposed would give them the immediate redress they need.
“Tomorrow is International Guide Dog Day and I call on the Minister to outline concrete plans to address this issue and give peace of mind to people who rely on guide, hearing or assistance dogs,” Mr Pitt said.