Government delays inquiry until bill passes

Attorney-General Christian Porter (Liberal Party of Australia)

The Morrison Government has quietly mothballed an inquiry that would have paved the way for laws to protect gay students and teachers from being expelled or sacked from religious schools. Source: The Age.

By Michael Koziol, The Age

The Australian Law Reform Commission has not yet started work on the inquiry, which was first referred to nearly a year ago. President Sarah Derrington requested the deadline be extended until 12 months after the Religious Discrimination Bill passes Parliament - which is not guaranteed - making it highly unlikely any recommendations will be legislated before the next federal election.

Attorney-General Christian Porter made the change on March 2 but it was not announced by the government. The amendment appeared on the relevant webpage on the ALRC website last week.

Mr Porter told The Sun-Herald and The Sunday Age the delay "makes good sense as it will enable the commission to take into account the extraordinarily far-reaching public consultation process we undertook in developing the Religious Discrimination Bill".

But Anna Brown, a lawyer and the chief executive of LGBTQ advocacy group Equality Australia, said it was "irresponsible" to make the inquiry contingent on the bill's passage.

"This spells danger and discrimination for students at religious schools, whichever way you look at it," she said.

The ALRC's general counsel Matt Corrigan said the commission asked for an extension because it was impossible to conduct the inquiry while the Religious Discrimination Bill was being considered by Parliament.

"We will not be starting on this inquiry until either a bill is passed or a final decision is made by [the] government," he said. "The two are inexorably linked and it's not possible to look at them separately."


Morrison government quietly mothballs laws to protect gay students and teachers (The Age)

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