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Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, left, Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and Jacinta Collins (ACBC/NCEC)

Catholic Church leaders have put forward a proposal to the Albanese Government to address concerns about its draft religious discrimination laws, warning that as the legislation stands faith groups “would go a long way backwards”. Source: The Australian.

The three-pronged proposal, obtained by The Australian, was sent to the Government and the Opposition earlier this month before major party negotiations on the draft laws broke down.

The Coalition is demanding Labor address the extensive list of problems outlined by the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference before it considers its final position.

Signed by Melbourne Archbishop Peter A Comensoli, Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher OP and National Catholic Education Commission executive director Jacinta Collins, the proposal allows for the removal of section 38 of the Sex Discrimination Act but says it should be replaced by more precise protections for religious schools and corporations.

The Australian understands the Anglican Church has put forward a similar plan.

“If the (Government’s) amendments to the SDA and the proposed Religious Discrimination Bill were enacted as currently drafted, there would be a very real and substantial reduction in existing legal and operational freedoms for religious education institutions,” the archbishops and Ms Collins state.

“In essence, we would go a long way backwards. The current proposals would not provide sufficient legal and operational freedoms for religious educational institutions to maintain their religious ethos and fidelity to religious beliefs and practice.”

The Catholic leaders set out a series of amendments to the SDA to ensure religious schools can “appropriately manage” student conduct where it’s necessary “to preserve the institutions’ religious ethos”.

Opposition legal affairs spokeswoman Michaelia Cash urged the Government to act on feedback from faith groups, amid a stalemate between Labor and the Coalition on religious discrimination reforms. “

Mr Dreyfus’s spokesman said no Australian should be discriminated against because of who they are or what they believe.


Catholic Church leaders say faith laws ‘going backwards’ (By Rosie Lewis, The Australian