The Morrison government will not introduce its controversial religious discrimination bill to the parliament until 2020, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced today.
Morrison said the government had “taken into account” the thousands of submissions made on the draft bill. He said the government would soon issue a second version, with changes.
“This second and final exposure draft will be released before the end of the year.
“It will take account of issues raised and provide the opportunity to respond to the revisions made and fine-tune the bill before it is introduced next year.
“We made a commitment to Australians to address this issue at the last election. We are keeping faith with that commitment in a calm and considered process.
“We’re about listening and getting this right.”
Rodney Croome: No one needs, wants or supports the bill
Rodney Croome from just.equal told QNews.com.au, “This is a bill no one needs, no one wants and no one supports.
“It’s time for the government to throw it in the bin and move on.”
PFLAG spokesperson Shelley Argent told QNews.com.au they’re relieved the Morrison government is “rethinking” the bill.
“The original draft of the bill would have a negative impact on the vast majority of Australians,” she said.
“The only group to escape the bill’s problems are white Christian males.
“Australian Christians already have the right to religious freedom. However, one group’s freedom should never negatively impact another’s.
“We also thank religious groups and equality groups who spoke out about the need for equality for everyone, not just some.”
But faith leaders want religious freedom bill to go further
However, a group of religious leaders told the government they’re also unhappy, because they say the draft bill doesn’t go far enough.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported a group of religious leaders wrote to the Morrison government this week threatening to withdraw support.
The leaders – including the Prime Minister’s own Pentecostal movement – say the bill in its current form will “diminish the religious freedom of faith groups in Australia”.
“We take the view that it would be better to have no Religious Discrimination Act rather than a flawed one,” the leaders wrote, according to the Herald.
Federal Labor has not revealed a position on the draft bill but some MPs criticised the draft bill as “friendless”.
“I have yet to see any wholehearted or enthusiastic support coming from either religious organisations, equality groups or the business community,” Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally said.
“It is currently, as a draft bill, a friendless piece of legislation.”
Labor’s shadow health minister Chris Bowen told The Guardian many religious leaders are also unhappy with the legislation.
“This bill is friendless. It is friendless,” he said.
“The government has cocked it up so badly. I’ve got my religious leaders saying, we don’t like it, we think it is a pretty ordinary piece of legislation.”
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