Mark Dreyfus MP

Member for Isaacs
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Religious Discrimination Bill Inquiry

30 November 2021

The limitations of the Morrison-Joyce Government’s ‘inquiry’ into the Religious Discrimination Bill are on full display, with the Government-controlled Joint Standing Committee on Human Rights signalling it does not even want to hear from individuals unless they are academics.  

MARK DREYFUS 
SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL 
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CONSTITUTIONAL REFORM 
MEMBER FOR ISAACS 
 
RELIGIOUS DISCRIMINATION BILL INQUIRY

The limitations of the Morrison-Joyce Government’s ‘inquiry’ into the Religious Discrimination Bill are on full display, with the Government-controlled Joint Standing Committee on Human Rights signalling it does not even want to hear from individuals unless they are academics.  

In his speech to the Parliament on the Religious Discrimination Bill, Mr Morrison said ‘[o]ur anti-discrimination laws play an essential role in protecting the liberty of our citizens, each as individual human beings’. 

And yet Mr Morrison has now signalled that he does not want individual human beings, including people of faith, to have a say on his Religious Discrimination Bill unless they are academics.

Discrimination legislation is complex and we have already heard many different arguments on what the Bill will do, including from within the Government. It’s important we now have a genuine inquiry to work through this complex legislation.  

The Government-controlled Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has also signalled that it will reject submissions that do not ‘strictly’ address its terms of reference.  

This means if religious organisations want to argue in favour of stronger anti-vilification protections to protect people of faith, they may be denied a voice.  

If a union or school want to argue that Scott Morrison should follow through on his commitment to amend the Sex Discrimination Act to make it unlawful to discriminate against gay students, they also may not be heard.

The Committee has also said that: 

  • It will not accept submissions after 5pm on 21 December 2021, which gives submitters just three weeks to make a submission. 
  • It will hold only three public hearings and all of them will be in Canberra. 

Labor does not accept that the Government should be dictating who the Committee should be receiving evidence from and what issues they can raise. 

We repeat our call for the Government to work with Labor on a genuine inquiry involving both MPs and Senators so that this important legislation receives the consideration it deserves. 

TUESDAY, 30 NOVEMBER 2021