Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Marriage Amendment (Definition and Religious Freedoms) Bill 2017; In Committee
Briefly: I thank Senator Smith for that. I do note that he's actually made our case in that it was the opinion of the arbitrator that he didn't believe that St Vincent de Paul was a body for religious purposes. I take you back again to the UN, which said a body for religious purposes can establish a body for charitable purposes, which is what St Vincent de Paul had done. The concept of the president of the chapter being a Catholic, to put it in this context, would be like saying we should say to the Labor Party, for example, that they should allow someone who was a Liberal Democrat to be the Leader of the Opposition here because they can actually fulfil the practical functions of running the chamber. The fact that they disagree completely in terms of the policy and the approach and on being the voice for the Labor Party here means it would never happen. Of course it would never happen. That's the same argument that the president of an organisation like St Vincent de Paul is supposed to speak to the character of the organisation, what their values are, what they stand for. And the decision of that arbitrator says, 'Well, no, as long as they can sign the paperwork and put a rubber stamp on something, they'll do.' There are not too many other areas in life where we would accept that. The point is this amendment looks to give these charitable bodies the certainty they need, because what we will see in evidence here is that the vagaries of an individual's assessment means that their status is not certain.
The CHAIR: The question is that amendments (1) to (4) on sheet 8330, moved by Senator Fawcett, be agreed to.