Queensland Sunday Mail, Australia.
Saturday, April 15, 2006.
COLIN McNamara has stayed in dozens of motels from Cunnamulla to Melbourne with his guide dog and best mate, Clancy.
"Anywhere I go he goes - to church, to the pictures, everywhere. He's my best cobber," Mr McNamara, 69, said of his black labrador retriever cross.
So when a Brisbane bayside motel cancelled his booking because it did not want Clancy to stay in the motel room he was not going to take it lightly.
"All I wanted was an apology," said Mr McNamara, who is blind in one eye and almost blind in the other.
And last month the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Tribunal awarded Mr McNamara $18,580 compensation after finding the owner of Cleveland Visitor Villas Motel and its manager discriminated against him.
The tribunal found Mr McNamara was treated in a "high-handed and arrogant way" and ordered motel owner Golonaise Pty Ltd to pay Mr McNamara $13,935 and former manager John James to pay him $4645.
Under the Anti-Discrimination Act it is against the law to refuse to rent accommodation to a person with a guide dog.
Mr McNamara and his wife, Christine, 64, who live at Hollywell on the Gold Coast, wanted to stay overnight in Cleveland, on Brisbane's southern bayside, while attending a historical commercial vehicle show in September 2004.
Two months earlier Mr McNamara, who sold trucks and harvesters for many years, made a motel booking through Redland Shire Tourist Bureau, telling them he would have his guide dog with him.
The tribunal was told Ms Fiona Krasic from the bureau advised Mr James that Mr McNamara was blind and would be bringing Clancy.
Mr McNamara paid $247.50 by credit card. Ms Krasic made the booking and faxed the motel a confirmation. She said Mr James told her that as long as the dog was clean it would be fine, but he would have to get authorisation from Golonaise managing director Gerhard Kempe.
Mr McNamara said that when he phoned Mr James on September 7, 2004, he mentioned he was bringing Clancy and Mr James said it would be all right.
When Mr McNamara called again the night before their scheduled arrival Mr James told him insurance barred the motel from taking dogs.
And he said the couple did not have a booking and the motel was full.
Tribunal member Darryl Rangiah said it was clear a substantial reason for refusing Mr McNamara a room was that he was bringing Clancy.
"It was terrible," said Mr McNamara, who has won an award for his work with Vision in Paradise, a service he set up to help the vision-impaired.
Mr and Mrs McNamara said they hoped the tribunal decision would mean no others with guide dogs faced the same problems.
When contacted by The Sunday Mail Mr Kempe said he had nothing to say because he was not at the tribunal hearing. Mr James could not be contacted.
End of article.
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