House debates

Thursday, 7 December 2017


Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; Consideration in Detail

4:26 pm

Photo of Luke HowarthLuke Howarth (Petrie, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

I rise to support the member for Mallee's amendments. I very much agree with what he had to say. Recently, a tribunal held that a large Australian faith based charity, St Vincent De Paul, could not require their president to also be of the same faith or be expected to act consistently with the charity's beliefs. This amendment to the marriage amendment bill will clarify that and, as has always been the intention of the law, faith based charities are to be recognised as religious bodies.

When I spoke on the same-sex marriage debate the other day I thanked the member for Leichhardt for his contribution to it, but on this issue I do disagree with him. Ultimately, this law and this bill will affect charitable status. Many of those organisations believe in the traditional view of marriage, that marriage is between a man and a woman. The concern is that, if those religious organisations continue to believe that in the future, what will happen to their charitable status? What will happen to those organisations? If we fast forward 10 years to 2028, what will happen to those people then?

Speakers opposite, including the member for Isaacs and so forth, have said, 'Oh, well, we don't need to talk about it here; we don't need to worry about it.' They say that the reason for not debating these bills is because it will delay the passage of same-sex marriage. But the fact is that the Labor Party are not standing up for religious freedoms in this country. The Labor Party are not standing up for individuals and Christian based organisations and charities in this party. In fact, to every person listening to this broadcast: you need to know that the Labor Party have not given their members a free vote. They talk about coming into this place and talk about a free vote, but they have not given their members a free vote.

People in my electorate—Jason from Clontarf—are concerned that this bill leaves churches, charities and individuals open to a wide range of political and anti-discrimination attack. Jason, I hear you. Mr Young from Bald Hills urged me to fight for additional protections for charities. Well, the Labor Party is not fighting for you. They are not. They come into this place and they say that there's been a free vote. They've been delaying this bill for the last 18 months by not honouring the coalition's strong commitment to having a plebiscite. They voted against it, and they continue to do so.

For every religious person, the 70 per cent of people who in the census said that they have a religion, the Labor Party is not fighting for them today. The Labor Party will not stand and be counted. For those electorates like Blaxland, where 73 per cent voted no, the Labor Party won't even give the member for Blaxland a say on issues like this. The member for Watson and the member for McMahon, who voted against same-sex marriage just four or five years ago, do not get a conscience vote on these amendments, nor does the member for Fowler or the member for Calwell. The Labor Party says, 'No, you don't have a right to a conscience vote on these amendments.'

For all Australians listening, the fact is that same-sex marriage can be delivered and will be delivered today, but it could have been delivered with sensible amendments in place. The Labor Party are running scared. They ran scared of the Australian people by not allowing a conscience vote straight up, and now they won't even give their own members sensible amendments in relation to this. It's not good enough. The Labor Party are weak. I will be proud to support these amendments.


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