Independent Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie has expressed concerns about the government’s draft religious discrimination bill.
Lambie told ABC News she doesn’t see a case for the controversial bill “at this point in time”.
The independent senator told the ABC she would “have a look” at the legislation. But she said Tasmanians “seem to be satisfied” with existing laws and “don’t really want this changed”.
“I know the religious freedoms we have in Tasmania, as they are now, they are working pretty well,” she said.
“I don’t have a lot of people around Tasmania talking to me about religious freedom.
“They have more important things to talk about like homelessness, not enough jobs, [and] public hospitals completely out of control.
“So it is not something that is feeding back from the electorate through to me.”
Asked if she saw a case for the federal bill, she replied: “Not at this point in time.
“Unless there is a real pickup, and a lot more Tasmanians are speaking to me about it, I guess at this point in time [my position] will stay as is.”
Asked if she is concerned the bill overrides Tasmanian discrimination law, Lambie replied: “I think that will upset Tasmanians more than the law itself, to be honest.”
Religious discrimination bill goes too far, advocates say
Attorney-General Christian Porter released the draft religious discrimination bill two weeks ago.
The controversial legislation has a stated aim of “eliminating, so far as is possible, discrimination against persons on the ground of religious belief or activity in a range of areas of public life.”
Responding to Jacqui Lambie, Equality Tasmania spokesperson Rodney Croome thanked the senator for questioning the need for the federal law.
Croome argued the bill would “take away legal protections for vulnerable Tasmanians as well as the right of all Tasmanians to make our own human rights laws”.
“The people who will suffer most from the proposed federal override of our state discrimination protections are Tasmanians vulnerable to hate and discrimination,” he said.
“[This includes] people with disability, single parents, unmarried partners, ethnic minorities and LGBTI people.”
Croome added his home state of Tasmania already has the nation’s strongest protections against discrimination and hate speech directed at people of faith.
“Tasmanians have the right to make laws to protect the most vulnerable among us, without interference from meddling Canberra politicians.”
The Morrison government has also copped criticism for the short timeframe for feedback on the draft bill.
You can make a submission responding to the draft religious discrimination legislation online here until October 2.
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