Dreyfus says the government needs to consult with all Australians

Labor’s Shadow Attorney General, Mark Dreyfus, is calling on the Morrison government to be more transparent with the development of their religious discrimination legislation.

While the proposed legislation has been approved by cabinet, and shown to religious and family groups, it has  not been shared with the opposition, or LGBTIQ groups concerned about its content.

The government has said it will introduce its legislation into parliament soon, and bring on  a vote before the end of the year. Mark Dreyfus argues that they need to give the rest of the country more time to understand their proposal.

“Religious discrimination legislation affects all Australians, not just the Liberal Party room, and the Morrison Government must ensure there is time to ensure all Australians are properly consulted about this important bill.

“The Liberals have been arguing about this issue for more than two years but now want to give the rest of the country just weeks to debate it.” Dreyfus said in a media release.

“Having consulted only internally through Liberal Party “workshops” and “presentations for Liberal and Nationals backbenchers” Attorney-General Christian Porter now wants to bring legislation into the House within weeks, with a final vote before the end of the year.”

The Labor legal spokesperson highlighted that the government was putting forward the legislation before one of the key reports they had insisted upon commissioning had even been delivered.

“This is despite the fact that the Australian Law Reform Commission, which was commissioned by the Government to inquire into the Framework of Religious Exemptions in Anti discrimination Legislation, is not due to report its findings until April next year.” Dreyfus said.

He accused the government of being secretive in their approach to developing the legal changes that could have wide ranging effects on Australians lives.

“It is totally unacceptable for such far-reaching, complex and potentially divisive legislation to be decided almost entirely by sections of the Liberal Party.

“The Liberal Party is not the Parliament, and the secretive process being used to develop this legislation is causing anxiety among large sections of the Australian community.” Dreyfus said.

One of the concerns held about the new legislation is that it will not address the power religious bodies have to sack staff who they discover are gay. The legislation may reinforce that power, and override current laws in some states where people are protected.

Labor MP Stephen Jones told the ABC that he has concerns that the legislation would allow for “special rights” and he was not in favour of religious schools having the right to sack teachers.

“I’m not comfortable, I’ve got to say, with going as far as providing some special right, that we’ve set aside from every other right that is protected by the parliament.”

Jones said the federal parliament should have laws that are the same as those found in state laws. He said he was personally uncomfortable with religious based schools being able to discriminate against people, especially when they were receiving commonwealth funding to operate.

OIP Staff



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