House debates

Thursday, 18 October 2018

Statements by Members

Review of Religious Freedom

1:37 pm

Photo of George ChristensenGeorge Christensen (Dawson, National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

Fake news reports have already hijacked serious debate on religious liberty by falsely suggesting the Ruddock review recommended faith based schools be allowed to expel students and sack teachers for being gay. The truth is that they are already allowed to under existing law—law made by Labor. How many reports of instances of such expulsions or sackings have there been? None that I know of. The real issue is the ability of faith based institutions to teach, advocate, express and uphold their faith based values without government intervention or penalty.

The principal, Mr Mark Ogilvie, of Whitsunday Christian College in my electorate wrote to me to say:

We need to be able to continue teaching and shaping our community life according to our beliefs and values, and we need to be able to employ staff that uphold those beliefs. It is the Christian values and Christian ethos of Whitsunday Christian College that is a major point of difference with government schools. To compromise our beliefs and values would be to change the integrity of our College.

A couple of years ago, Tasmanian Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous was taken to the antidiscrimination tribunal for the horrendous crime of giving Catholic school students a booklet promoting the Catholic Church's teaching on marriage. This is exactly why religious liberty laws are needed. We must not erode the right of Christian schools and other faith based institutions to ensure that their employees, who act as ambassadors for those institutions, behave publicly in accord with the faith based values of those institutions, in the same way that government schools ensure teachers behave in accordance with moral and ethical codes— (Time expired)