Even "unconscious" discrimination is now illegal in Australia

But, as in Britain, it is the anti-discrimination bodies themselves that discriminate most. The comment below refers to a recent Australian court case where a group of older women failed to get jobs as stewardesses (Whoops! "Flight Attendants") with an Australian airline and sued the airline for discrimination -- successfully. Andrew Bolt comments:

"Odd times, when Virgin Blue must hand a woman $5000 because its staff "unconsciously" liked someone else more. Don't daydream in Queensland, folks. Those thoughts could cost you. It was Queensland's anti-discrimination tribunal that this week ruled Virgin discriminated against eight women, aged 36 to 56, refusing to hire them as flight attendants because they thought them too old. It's not that Virgin consciously avoided hiring older hosties. Even the tribunal said that. In fact, these women were interviewed despite giving their age. But they then had to audition to show they had "Virgin flair".

Personally, I find "Virgin flair" as welcome as a drunk in the aisle seat. Those jokes and ecstatic welcomes are on the needy side of pleasing. But Virgin knows better than me -- or a tribunal -- how to run an airline. And so it made applicants do routines with Mickey Mouse ears and a feather boa. Not surprisingly, it seemed younger applicants had more Virgin Flair than did the older women, not one of whom got the job. I suspect a 50-year-old has too much self-respect to happily caper around cattle class singing goofy songs.

But this was bad. Tribunal member Douglas Savage, QC, decided the young Virgin staff running the auditions had, without thinking, identified with applicants who looked like them. Young. Fresh. As he snapped: "A fun person." Actually, hadn't they simply figured parties swing better with younger hosts? But perhaps that's not a smart argument to put in a tribunal whose sombre members aren't all in the first riot of youth.

Indeed, Savage ruled the older applicants were kept out by nothing more than unconscious prejudice, and ordered compensation. And the evidence that clinched it -- the Virgin Blue Clue -- was that only one of 750 attendants hired by Virgin at the time was over 36. But let's check out this analysis in other fields. Let's try it, for instance, on the anti-discrimination bodies. Gosh, the head and deputy head of Queensland's Anti-Discrimination Commission, and its tribunal chief, are all women. In Victoria, four of the five Equal Opportunity Commission members are women, too, and the lone male is gay. What odds, when most top lawyers are straight men?

The Virgin Blue Clue would have us think this proves discrimination. But, of course, that's false, because anti-discrimination commissars are chosen not for their gender, but expertise. And to accuse anyone of getting a job through even "unconscious discrimination" would be dangerous. The thoughts of some people, at least, are still private. And thank heavens".

Comments? Email John Ray

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