Attorney-General says inquiry into new Religious Discrimination Bill not needed

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LGBTIQ advocates have slammed Attorney-General Michaelia Cash’s suggestion the next draft of the controversial Religious Discrimination Bill should dodge a parliamentary inquiry before its passage.

The Morrison Government’s two earlier drafts of the long-delayed legislation earlier caused backlash.

Neither would end up making it to parliament. The Attorney-General has worked for several months on creating a new, as-yet-unseen version.

Cash told the Sydney Morning Herald, “The bill will ensure that individuals cannot be discriminated against on the basis of their religious belief or activity.”

She vowed to introduce the legislation to parliament by the end of the year. The next federal election is due in the first half of next year.

The Herald reported the federal government plans to pressure Labor to not hold a subsequent Senate inquiry into the new draft.

Contentious legislation typically goes to a Senate committee for examination after its introduction.

Michaelia Cash said the government “has conducted two rounds of public consultation on draft legislation, and met face to face with over 90 stakeholders in a series of roundtables.”

Serious concerns around Religious Discrimination Bill

In response, national LGBTIQ+ advocacy organisation Just.Equal has written to politicians urging them to back a public inquiry.

Spokesperson Rodney Croome said previous drafts had caused serious concerns.

He said the earlier drafts “took existing rights away from women, people with disability, LGBTIQ+ people and others.”

“Those Australians deprived of their rights by this Bill deserve to have their voices heard and concerns addressed,” he said.

“Previous consultations by the government aren’t a substitute for a fully-fledged public inquiry by parliament.

“Particularly given the government’s obvious interest in having this Bill pass.”

Meanwhile, Labor legal affairs spokesperson Mark Dreyfus said the Bill was unlikely to pass before the next federal election.

“Labor supports a further extension of the anti-discrimination framework to ensure that Australians are not discriminated against because of their religious beliefs or activities,” Dreyfus said.

“We have repeatedly made clear we are happy to work with them on this.”

Liberal MP Warren Entsch has warned he would vote against the Bill if it undermined LGBTIQ rights.

Australian Christian Lobby claims new draft has ‘a lot of flaws’

Last week, Australian Christian Lobby director Martyn Iles discussed the contents of the new draft in a radio interview that was later deleted from the Internet.

Iles told Vision Christian Radio the latest Religious Discrimination Bill contains an “Israel Folau clause” they had fought “tooth and nail” for.

But he claimed the federal government had been “very, very difficult”.

“We have not been able to get all the things we think are important,” he said.

“There’s a sense among faith leaders of disappointment that the bill is not as good as it should be.

“And [a sense] that there are a lot of flaws in the bill.

“At the same time, a sense of reluctant support. Because they can see that the bill does make a couple of key offerings which will make a difference in this country.”

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Jordan Hirst
Jordan Hirst

Jordan Hirst is an experienced journalist and content creator with a career spanning over a decade at QNews. Since 2012, the Brisbane local has covered an enormous range of topics and subjects in-depth affecting the LGBTIQA+ community, both in Australia and overseas. Today, the Brisbane-based journalist covers everything from current affairs, politics and health to sport and entertainment.

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