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Anglican Bishop Michael Stead, left, Mark Spencer and Michaelia Cash (Sydney Anglicans/ChristianSchools Association/ Facebook)

Religious leaders and the Coalition are urging Prime Minister Anthony Albanese to ignore a report the Government commissioned into reducing discrimination at faith-based schools. Source: The Australian.

They claim the report’s lead author has contradicted its findings by calling for stronger legal protections for religious institutions to adhere to their doctrines and hire staff who share their values.

Anglican Bishop of South Sydney Michael Stead and Christian Schools Australia director Mark Spencer have urged Mr Albanese to return to the drawing board and provide a plan that gives more certainty for faith groups.

Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Michaelia Cash also declared there needed to be a “series of major changes” to the Government’s draft religious discrimination bill to gain bipartisan support.

The calls came after NSW Supreme Court judge Stephen Rothman, who led the Australian Law Reform Commission’s review of discrimination at religious schools, said faith employers needed a religious discrimination bill that included a “positive right” to hire staff based on their ethos.

Justice Rothman said the commission’s report released by the Government last month, which proposed removing a section of the Sex Discrimination Act that allowed schools to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity, was “constrained” by the terms of reference set by Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus.

Justice Rothman on Friday argued his proposal did not contradict the ARLC report as the Government did not task him with designing a religious discrimination act, only to advise on section 38 of the SDA.

But Bishop Stead said he believed Justice Rothman articulated a “different position to that that is in the ARLC report”.

Mr Spencer said Justice Rothman’s comments “takes away any moral authority that report has”.

“Any sense (the ALRC report) reflects a clear, considered, impartial legal analysis has gone out the window,” he said.


Labor urged to revisit religious freedom laws (By Greg Brown, The Australian)


NSW Supreme Court judge Stephen Rothman urges Anthony Albanese to grant ‘positive rights’ to faith schools (The Australian)