Tuesday, 16 October 2018
Matters of Public Importance
Well, there you go. But the government has announced that it will move immediately, certainly on the discrimination against children. And there will be further indications on the government's moves on any changes in this area, or intent, when the report is officially released.
There are great calls that the report should be released immediately. There is a long history in Australia of governments taking their time to consider reports, particularly ones that don't have that pressing implication of something having to be done tomorrow. And in the case of this, whilst those laws might be offensive to some—and most of us actually recognise they need to be changed—the fact that nobody has been using those laws, and that religious organisations and schools have not been using those laws to discriminate, would tend to indicates it's not as urgent as others might say.
But we are committed to religious freedom. We most certainly must be, because, of course, it is our Constitution, in section 116, that prohibits the making of laws to establish religion. It prohibits the making of laws to impose religious observance and it prohibits the making of laws that impact on anyone's ability to freely exercise their religion. It's very important. It prohibits anything that impacts on the provision of the freedom of religion. And so it is right, particularly when we change laws or when we consider change in this place, that we review what the likely impacts will be and, indeed, what the impacts have been when the laws were made.
When we get a change of legislation, like the same-sex marriage legislation that went through this place earlier this year, it is quite right that we should review it. It is right and proper that we should consider those implications. And that is exactly what the Ruddock report—well, I believe that is exactly what the Ruddock report is doing, Of course I haven't read it; no-one has leaked one to me! But we must consider those implications if we don't deliver on the intent of that section of the Constitution.
While many of us are concerned with things like that, I think the concerns are about the Catholic bishop in Tasmania who was pursued legally for publishing the views of the church. They should be allowed to do that. And I think that people in the public are concerned about the ability for schools to use Christmas carols, those that include religious content. I think they're pretty sick of the idea that the meanings and the reasons and the origins of Easter and Christmas have been drummed out of schools and pushed upon.