Federal Cabinet has backed Attorney-General Christian Porter’s proposals for a religious discrimination act, with minor changes to be made before a draft bill is released in the coming weeks. Source: The Australian.
Mr Porter yesterday said there was “finetuning” of the measures he took to cabinet, with an aim of passing the legislation by the end of the year.
He outlined an aim for the bill to be considered by both houses of Parliament by the end of the year, becoming law if backed by the majority of politicians.
“The Government is continuing to work through the final stages of a draft bill to deliver a religious discrimination act, as we committed to doing at the last election,” Mr Porter said in a statement this afternoon.
“The draft bill will deliver a religious discrimination act that reflects other existing anti-discrimination laws, such as those covering age, race and disability.
“I am close to finalising a draft bill. There is some finetuning now being conducted and I expect a draft bill would be released in the next few weeks, before parliament resumes in September.
“That bill will form the basis of further consultations with members and senators from all parties, religious groups and other key stakeholders, including business and LGBTIQ+ groups.”
Mr Porter said the laws would act as a “shield” against discrimination and not a “sword” allowing religious people to discriminate.
“The laws will protect people from being discriminated against, but will not give them a licence to discriminate against other people,” he said.
Meanwhile, Anglican Bishop Michael Stead is “optimistic” the laws will ensure church-run aged care homes do not have to support people when they access euthanasia services, as well as protect churches’ ability to selectively hire school staff who share their religious ethos, the Sydney Morning Herald reports.
“The Government is certainly aware of our concerns,” Bishop Stead said.
Patrick Parkinson, a spokesperson for Christian legal think tank, Freedom for Faith, said the Morrison Government had “shifted” its thinking in response to consultation with church groups.
Professor Parkinson said the new religious discrimination laws needed to protect organisations as well as individuals. “We’ve made the point strongly. I think that’s been accepted.”
Religious freedom proposal passes cabinet, draft bill imminent (The Australian)
Churches want new laws to allow refusal to support euthanasia in aged care (Sydney Morning Herald)