Senate debates

Tuesday, 28 November 2017

Bills

Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee

8:44 pm

Photo of Eric AbetzEric Abetz (Tasmania, Liberal Party) Share this | Hansard source

In recent times we had the assurance of the Solicitor-General that certain people's constitutional situation was absolutely guaranteed! And it was bowled out by the High Court, seven-nil. We have the opportunity in this chamber to put this matter beyond doubt by simply supporting this amendment, which seeks to underpin and support the work of those hundreds of thousands—I dare say I should correct myself: millions—of Australians who work for these charities, doing untold good right throughout the community. They deserve protection, they're entitled to it and the silence of Labor and the Greens speaks for itself.

Sure, Senator Smith has provided us with a letter from a so-called expert, but in my life I've seen so many assurances and letters from experts—lawyers, accountants et cetera—who have all proven to be wrong. We can put this beyond doubt tonight by simply voting for this amendment. No longer having to rely on a letter here or an opinion there, we can simply put it beyond any doubt by supporting this amendment.

The only criticism I've heard is that it's unnecessary, or that it's baseless. What can be the harm in actually putting forward this amendment? If, as asserted, the fears are baseless, there will be an unused clause or clauses in the bill that will never see the light of day because charities will continue to be protected as we've been promised. There's no downside.

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