Thursday, 7 December 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; Consideration in Detail
I share the story of a guy who intervened and a girl who was about to get killed. She was about to get stoned for an action that she had taken, because she was caught in the act of adultery. He stood between her and the crowd. He looked at the crowd. He hopped down on the ground, and he wrote something on the ground. He picked up a stone, and he said, 'He who is without sin, throw the first stone.' The older people left first, then the younger people left, then there was no-one there. And he said: 'No-one's here to throw a stone. No-one judges you. Well, I don't judge you either.'
You wonder why I tell that story. I want to tell you why. It is because people who are motivated by their faith get involved in action. Faith based organisations are not judging organisations. They are in fact the spearhead of good. In 1967, when they had a referendum to give rights to the Indigenous population, what did the government do after that? They set aside reserves on the outskirts of towns so that, when the station people, the Indigenous people, had to move off because they were now due for the minimum wage and move into the outskirts of town, they had somewhere to go. That was the government's response. I'll tell you a little bit about my parents' response, motivated by faith. They lived in a tin shed and worked with the Aboriginal community to make sure people's livelihoods were looked after.
Faith based organisations are always the cutting edge, ahead of government, to deliver social services—
An honourable member: Abolishing slavery.
to abolish slavery. You know, David Livingstone opened up Africa. All we ask is that faith based organisations have the right to decide who is in the management and employment of those faith based organisations—the right to reflect those views. On tax law: the faith based charities should be exempt under antidiscrimination law, and it shouldn't impact their tax endorsements.
The freedoms that faith based organisations have provided for the world have been significant. Most of our aid organisations have been faith based organisations. It is imperative that those faith based organisations have the right to decide who they employ. The freedoms of faith based organisations to determine that those who seek to do their work hold similar values are important in a plural and tolerant society. What we do not want to see is people who attempt to litigate against faith based organisations on the grounds that they feel discriminated against. This amendment simply seeks to broaden the act that allows faith based schools and faith based churches to determine that the people who are in their employment are consistent with their beliefs. It attempts to broaden that to faith based organisations. Any attempt to diminish the rights of faith based organisations ultimately diminishes society.
I haven't seen too many people from the LGBTI community—and this is a challenge for the LGBTI community—become great social advocates like I have seen religious organisations and religious people be. The people who come into my office and complain about Australia's treatment of refugees are motivated by their Christian faith. That's what I want to say: we must look after people of faith and uphold them. Those faith based organisations should have those laws broadened across to them and that's why this amendment should be supported in this chamber. Thank you.