Minister for Disability Services and Multicultural Affairs The Honourable Annastacia Palaszczuk 01/09/2009
Dog discrimination penalties increase today
Tough new penalties come into force today for anyone who refuses service to people with a disability because they have a guide, hearing or assistance dog.
Disability Services Minister Annastacia Palaszczuk said today that fines for individuals and corporations would significantly increase under the new Guide, Hearing and Assistance Dogs Act 2009.
"Hefty fines of up to $10,000 for individuals and up to $50,000 for businesses now apply for refusing access to someone with a highly trained and certified guide, hearing or assistance dog," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"This means that everyone now has the same access to shops, restaurants, cinemas and entertainment venues, as well as transport services such as buses, taxis and ferries.
"Although there have been laws banning discrimination against people with Guide Dogs since 1972, the new Act has been broadened to also include people with a properly trained assistance or hearing dog.
"These animals can make a huge difference to the quality of life of people with a disability and open up a new world of possibilities for them - provided they don't face discrimination from those operating transport services or public places.
"While the new Act came into force in July this year, there was a two-month moratorium on the new fee structure to allow people to adjust to the changes to the law."
Ms Palaszczuk said booklets would be distributed to businesses and stakeholders in the next few weeks to ensure everyone is aware of the changes to the law.
"Fortunately, most people and businesses respect the rights of people with a disability and do the right thing - and that's to be applauded," Ms Palaszczuk said.
"However, as a safeguard, the new Act will reinforce and strengthen the rights of people with a disability who rely on a guide, hearing or assistance dog."
Ms Palaszczuk said the distressing case of Suzanne Brown and her guide dog Jasper being refused access to a bus last week in Springwood last week was an unfortunate yet timely reminder of misconceptions that exist within our community.
"I understand the bus company has counselled the bus driver concerned but it only goes to highlight the many difficulties faced by people with a disability as they try to lead a normal life," she said.
"In this day and age, these types of incidences should never happen and the Bligh Government is determined to stamp out these blatant forms of discrimination."
Mr Palaszczuk said qualified assistance dog trainers were currently being accredited and properly accredited assistance dogs would start appearing publicly in the next few months.