Christian lobby demands major changes to bill

Christian Porter (ABC News/Matt Roberts)

The Australian Christian Lobby has told Attorney-General Christian Porter his discrimin­ation bill needs wholesale changes, as he prepares to re-engage faith groups ahead of finalising laws to protect religious freedoms. Source: The Australian.

By Geoff Chambers, The Australian.

Mr Porter has come under pressure from leading faith, legal, business, education, health and social groups in the past week demanding his revamped religious discrimination legislation be heavily amended, delayed or dumped.

The ACL, which has more than 170,000 supporters, described the bill as containing “fundamental deficiencies which need to be ­addressed”.

In a submission lodged with the Attorney-General last Friday, the ACL, which helped raise more than $2m to fund Israel Folau’s legal case against Rugby Australia, said Mr Porter’s draft legislation needed “considerable amendment before it is an effective religious discrimination bill”. The ACL said it wanted to work with the Government and MPs to “facilitate changes to protect Australians from religious discrimination”.

Mr Porter yesterday confirmed he would undertake “another brief round of consultations” before a final bill was put to Parliament. He said there had been “sensible issues raised in some submissions around the effectiveness of drafting”,

The Australian understands the bill is likely to be introduced in March before entering a parliamentary review process, and substantial amendments would be required to win passage, and bipartisan support, for a religious discrimination act.

“Naturally that bill will be subject to parliamentary committee processes, and the parliamentary committee will make recommendations that will be considered by Government as the bill progresses through parliament,” Mr Porter told The Australian.

The ACL said the Government had “clearly made an effort” in responding to concerns of faith groups, including addressing two of the seven issues raised by the group, but felt the new bill failed to fix “fundamental flaws”.

The Law Council of Australia also expressed “significant concerns” about the religious discrimination draft bill, because of its “unorthodox features”, and warned of an adverse impact on businesses.

“These not only raise human rights concerns, but also complicate an already complex area of law,” the LCA submission said.

FULL STORY

Religion bill has elemental flaws, Christians tell Christian Porter (The Australian

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