Abetz calls on all Liberal members to support Religious Discrimination bill

Liberal senator Eric Abetz has called on his party colleagues to accept compromise and support the Religious Discrimination bill that was introduced into parliament by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Thursday.

“It is a decent piece of legislation, I’m willing to support it.” Abetz said during appearance on The MecGregor Angle on Sky News on Friday. ‘I still have to go through it clause by clause, but overall the principle is right.”

Senator Abetz told host Catherine McGregor that while he would have liked to have seen more elements of the original drafts in the bill, he was willing to accept a compromise.

“Would I have to have seen a bit more in it? Yes I would have, but in fairness there are other people in my party that think it might still be going a little bit too far, and I hope they have the same approach as I do, that while not one-hundred-percent satisfied with the bill, it is a compromise that is worthy of support even if you’d don’t like it one-hundred-percent.

The Tasmanian senator said the delivery of laws against religious discrimination has been a “hard core” election promise from the coalition.

‘We are dutybound to deliver to the people of Australia protections, so that people such as the Archbishop of Tasmania – simply for teaching the Catholic view on marriage – is not brought before a government instrumentality to explain himself, that’s just outrageous.” Senator Abetz said.

“In a party you seek to come to a compromise that accommodates everybody and I think that is what the two attorneys, first Christian Porter and then Michaelia Cash, have been able to deliver, and the Prime Minister introduced to the parliament.

“I hope all my colleagues will be able to stick with it, and what I can gather from faith leaders – they are relatively happy with the legislation.” Senator Abetz said.

On Friday the Attorney General wrote to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights and asked them to look at the bill, and report back by 4th February 2022. The move came after the Prime Minister met with Liberal members concerned about how the bill could potentially allow discrimination against LGBTIQA staff and students.

Prior to the bill being referred to the committee members of the House of Representatives would likely have been required to vote on the legislation next week during the final week of parliament sitting for 2021.

Graeme Watson

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