Labor frontbencher Tanya Plibersek says she sees a “real problem” with how the Government’s proposed religious discrimination laws override state legislation. Source: The Guardian.
Ms Plibersek said while the Labor party’s MPs were “absolutely supporters of religious freedoms”, the inclusion of a specific clause that overrides Tasmania’s Anti-Discrimination Act would be difficult for the opposition to support.
“I think that that would be a real problem with this legislation,” Plibersek told ABC’s Insiders program.
“I think that it’s something that [Attorney-General] Christian Porter promised that he wouldn’t do – interfere with state laws, and I’m sure that the overriding of state laws in this instance is probably driven by Eric Abetz and some of the extreme Right because they’ve got problems with the Tasmanian laws.
“That is something that I think we would find very difficult to support, but we have to go through our proper processes on this.”
In the legislation released by the Coalition last week, the explanatory note claimed the override of Tasmanian law was necessary “given its broad scope and demonstrated ability to affect freedom of religious expression”.
Coalition conservatives, including Mr Abetz, have cited the case of Hobart Archbishop Julian Porteous – who had a discrimination complaint against him over marriage leaflets arguing that “messing with marriage is messing with kids” – as evidence of the need to override state laws.
Ms Plibersek also raised concern about the clauses aimed at addressing the circumstances of Israel Folau, saying there was still some doubt over how the process would work.
Mr Porter yesterday denied the bill would override state laws and said Ms Plibersek and Labor were looking for an “excuse” not to back the government’s proposal, The Australian reports.
“The bill doesn’t contravene state law,” he said. “Tanya Plibersek and Labor are just using any excuse possible to walk away from protecting the 14 million people in Australia that hold religious beliefs,” he said..
Mr Porter said the Porteous provision would not overrule Tasmanian law. Government sources said any case against Archbishop Porteous would have failed under existing state legislation and the provision was intended to protect religious groups from vexatious complainants.
Labor split over Porter’s faith protections bill (The Australian)