Is the government about to launch Version 3.0 of the religious discrimination bill?

Former Howard government Minister Kevin Andrews, who is now a backbencher in the Morrison government, has shared with a family group that Attorney General Christian Porter will soon reveal the third iteration of the controversial religious discrimination bill.

Andrews, who was recently dumped by the party ahead of the next election, spoke online to Family Voice Australia about the development of the bill.

Speaking to the religious group Andrews said historically Australians had “tolerated” each other and formed a society that balanced diversity and formed a cohesive community, but in recent years Australia had seen “extremes of diversity that leads to some degree of intolerance”.

The Liberal MP said the United Nations listed religious rights and other rights, such as the right not to be discriminated against, on an equal footing, but he believes the right to religious freedom is being treated as a second class right in Australia.

The legislation on religious freedom first came to life when the marriage equality laws were being debated in federal parliament in 2017. To appease religious voices in the Coalition then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced an inquiry into religious freedom in Australia.

The study undertaken by former Attorney General Phillip Ruddock conducted consultation sessions across Australia but it’s sessions were not made public, and no record of their consultation was available to the public. After the Ruddock Review was delivered to the government it was not made public either.

After Scott Morrison deposed Turnbull as the leader, sections of the report began to be leaked to the media causing a series of headaches for the new Prime Minister. Scott Morrison released the report, and later proposed legislation to be introduced in the parliament.  The bill has been heavily criticised by LGBTI  rights groups and human rights organisations.

Andrews shared with Family Voice Australia that he and other members of the government have been working closely with Attorney General Christian Porter on developing the latest draft of the legislation.

“I, and I suspect other members of parliament, at least on the coalition side, have had widespread and ongoing consultation with the Attorney, we’ve worked that for a period of a good 12 months.”

The MP said Christian Porter is now ready to share the latest version of the bill with the parliament and Andrews hope it is presented shortly so it passed before the next federal election. Andrews said confidentiality prevented him for revealing what was in the new version of the proposed laws, but he believed if it was enacted it would be a “huge step in protecting freedom of religion in Australia.”

On their webpage Family Voice Australia highlighted the discussion with Andrews saying that the legislation was needed because under current Australian laws people could potentially be “hauled before a tribunal” for quoting biblical passages about homosexual activity.

The group highlighted the case of Pastor Campbell Markham who was called before a Tasmanian anti-discrimination board over comments he made about homosexual people on his website. Pastor Markham has recently been in the news in Western Australia as his wife Amanda-Sue Markham is the Liberal party’s candidate for the seat of Victoria Park at the state election.

OIP Staff

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