The Act: a closer look
The starting point is Section 21 of the Act. It lists those acts of discrimination that are prohibited – that is to say, not every act of discrimination (where one group of people is treated differently from another) is unlawful unless it is listed therein as a prohibited ground of discrimination.
Discrimination or difference in treatment based on ethnic or national origin (which is said to also include nationality or citizenship) is one such prohibited ground. There are others, such as the more common ones of sex, race, colour or religious belief.
Section 44 of the Act then makes it unlawful for any person (in this case the clinic) to supply services to the public, or any section of the public, whereby a person(s) is treated less favourably in connection with the provision of those services than would otherwise be the case “by reason of” any of the prohibited grounds of discrimination referred to in Section 21.
Undoubtedly on the facts of the above case, the clinic was indeed treating the French student less favourably (by charging him a higher consultation fee) for the provision of accident medical services than would otherwise be the case for a New Zealand national, or even a resident of Australia or the UK. What then of the justification raised by the clinic in response to the fee policy it has adopted?