Equality Religious Discrimination Petition

SUBJECT: Religious Discrimination Legislation


SUBJECT: Religious Discrimination Legislation
MARK DREYFUS, SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL: Thanks very much Anna (Brown, Equality Australia CEO). It’s a pleasure to be here on behalf of the Australian Labor Party to receive this petition and I just wanted to say that, unlike the Government, Labor understands just how important it is that there be absolutely full consultation about the issues around religious discrimination that are bound up in the exposure drafts of the bills that the Attorney-General released the week before last.
This is not a matter that can be left to an argument within the Liberal Party room, as has been occurring for the last two years. We’ve heard that the Attorney-General has in fact gone back to consulting with small groups of Liberal backbenchers. This is much too important an issue to be left to the Liberal Party room. It has to be a matter that is discussed across Australia. It has to be a matter on which all Australians can participate. It has to be a matter on which the churches are listened to, the mosques are listened to, the synagogues are listened to, equality groups are listened to and people across Australia who don’t have religious beliefs are listened to.
As I say, Labor is listening. Labor is fully consulting. I hope that the Government will understand the message that is contained in this petition and start consulting fully and start listening to the whole of Australia.
JOURNALIST: Mark, if the exposure draft of the Religious Discrimination Bill stays as is, could you vote for it?
DREYFUS: This is an exposure draft, just to make that clear. The Government has made it clear that it is an exposure draft on which the Government has called for submissions by the 2nd of October. I’d encourage everyone in Australia with an interest in this matter to make a submission to the Government and it is far too early to adopt a definitive position in respect of any of this bill simply because it is not clear that the Government will be proceeding with what’s in the exposure draft. In fact, if you listen carefully to things that the Attorney-General has said publicly about this, I think it seems highly likely that the Government is already contemplating change from the exposure draft.
We’ll wait and see what the Government finally presents to Parliament when that occurs.
JOURNALIST: But do you share Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong‘s concerns about the bill overriding state and federal discrimination law?
DREYFUS: I think if you look closely at what Penny Wong and Tanya Plibersek and a number of my other colleagues have said, they have pointed to the fact that since the Attorney-General released the exposure draft of these bills about 10 days ago there have been a lot of comments by many different groups across Australia pointing to problems with the drafting of the exposure draft of the bill. But I’m not going to go beyond that at this stage, because, as I say, this is an exposure draft.
The Government has made it clear that there is likely to be change. The time for Labor to be taking a definitive position will be after our full consultation has occurred, after our party room processes have occurred and that will be after the Government produces a bill and produces it to the Parliament.

  • Mark Dreyfus
    published this page in Transcripts 2019-09-10 17:08:04 +1000