Australia Religious discrimination bill gets delayed as PM Scott Morrison announces new draft

06:40  30 november  2019
06:40  30 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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Legislation aimed at preventing religious discrimination will not be introduced to Federal Parliament this year as planned, Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced.

The proposed laws, described as "friendless" by the Opposition, have been widely criticised by religious groups and equality advocates.

The announcement caps off a difficult week for the Morrison Government, which lost a Senate vote on its union-busting bill and faced sustained questions over a police investigation involving Energy Minister Angus Taylor.

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In a statement, Mr Morrison said the Government had given further consideration to hundreds of submissions made to the draft bill and would issue a second version, with changes.

"This second and final exposure draft will be released before the end of the year, and will take account of issues raised and provide the opportunity to respond to the revisions made and fine-tune the bill before it is introduced next year," he said.

"We made a commitment to Australians to address this issue at the last election and we are keeping faith with that commitment in a calm and considered process. We're about listening and getting this right."

The draft legislation attracted about 6,000 submissions, many of which were critical.

"I have yet to see any wholehearted or enthusiastic support coming from either religious organisations, equality groups or the business community," Labor frontbencher Kristina Keneally said shortly before Mr Morrison's announcement.

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"It is currently, as a draft bill, a friendless piece of legislation."

Attorney-General Christian Porter previously conceded the bill would face a "complicated" debate in Parliament but said he intended to introduce it in the final sitting fortnight which ends next week.

"I can't give a watertight guarantee that'll happen, but that's the goal that I've been working to," he told the National Press Club earlier this month.

Mr Porter also announced changes in relation to religious schools and aged care providers, giving them the right to hire and fire employees according to the tenets of their faith.

It is not yet clear what other changes the second version of the legislation will include.

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