Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
As Senator Rice has raised her concern that the intent of this is to enable people who would be authorised officers to discriminate, I rise to make the point again that the intent of this is to lay down a competence check. If they are going to appoint someone to be the commander of a ship, the ADF, before they appoint someone, check if the person is competent to do it, have they had the training and do they have the requisite personality et cetera to command. Recognising that an individual could have the right of objection just means that they will seek the appropriate person to appoint. So the intent is not to allow someone who is appointed to then say, 'I'm not going to do it'. The intent is for that person to not be appointed if they have that objection to it.
As I said, there are many other options, but this goes directly to article 18.3—that is, any limitation must be necessary, and this is clearly not necessary. If Senator Rice is not prepared to make legislation on the floor of the chamber, then I would invite her, if this is going to be voted down, to go to her colleagues and to consider it before it goes to the House. If an amendment were moved in a different form, where we actually tell the ADF how they can and can't make appointments and said, 'Thou shalt not appoint someone who has an objection', if that satisfied the concern, then it would still at least achieve the outcome of respecting the individual rights—bearing in mind that human rights are individual rights, which would then mean that you could still achieve the outcome you want without offending the individual right of a person in the ADF.