Parliament Votes NO to Discrimination

Today Abigail spoke out against a bill which would have negative affects on the ability to discriminate in our society. 

In opposing One Nation's bill, Abigail said:

In the latest desperate bid for relevancy, Pauline Hanson's One Nation has resurrected its harmful "right to discriminate" legislation and imposed it upon us. While the rest of us are still reeling from the harmful behaviour of the Federal attempt to ram through a similar religious discrimination bill, Pauline Hanson's One Nation members saw the news coverage and thought to themselves, "Ooh, I'll have some of that attention too, please." Unfortunately, they do not appear to have read past the headlines to see that provisions that grant a positive right to discriminate against already vulnerable communities are rejected by, and have no place in, our modern society. The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Act is well overdue for review, but the bill does not offer the necessary solutions. Instead it elevates religious expression above other human rights, allowing people to use religion to hurt others. The impact of the bill on the LGBTQI+ community, women, people with a disability and other people of faith would be significant.

In New South Wales, faith-based organisations are routinely given government contracts and funding to deliver education, housing, childcare, medical services, aged care, adoption and other essential services. Broadening the ability of those organisations to discriminate against people they do not feel share their beliefs would be disastrous. If adopted, the bill would allow faith-based organisations and commercial bodies the ability to challenge government programs, policies, contracts and decisions that contradict their religion; it would make it very difficult for government and non-government employers to take action against an employee or member who uses their religion privately to hurt others; it would give faith-based organisations the ability to discriminate on the grounds of religion in employment, education and service delivery, even when receiving public funding; it would give protection to religious activities that may be unlawful, such as those that vilify others or breach civil obligations; and it would prioritise freedom of religion above all other rights and freedoms under New South Wales anti-discrimination laws.

The manner in which the inquiry process—the hearings and the deliberatives—was conducted was an absolute disgrace. The committee was stacked with members of the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Freedoms, making it clear that no genuine inquiry would be taking place. I thank my colleague the member of Newtown, Jenny Leong, for her patience and courage during that inquiry, throughout which members showed a complete disregard for committee processes, voting together as a bloc to exclude witnesses who opposed their views and removing references to evidence from the final report that they did not agree with. There is broad recognition across society, which The Greens endorse, that there is a need to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs. But by giving one protected attribute supremacy over another, the bill would create more discrimination in our society, not less. The Greens oppose the bill.

 

The majority of the Upper House voted against One Nation's bill, and it was not passed. 

For the full transcript, see Hansard here.

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