Wednesday, 22 August 2018
Questions without Notice
Let me say at the outset that, of course, all Australians are free to choose their religion and are entitled to express and practice their religion and their beliefs, without intimidation and without interference, as long as those practices are within the framework of Australian law.
Senator Bernardi is right: the Prime Minister received a final report into religious freedom from the expert panel, chaired by the Hon. Philip Ruddock, on Friday 18 May 2018. That expert panel received over 1,500 public submissions and held around 90 consultation meetings with 180 individuals and groups representing a diversity of views. The government is very grateful for the work done by the expert panel. The Prime Minister has asked the Attorney-General to lead the government's detailed consideration of the report before releasing it to the public and responding to its findings. As the Prime Minister has indicated, any reforms to protect religious freedom should be undertaken carefully. The panel has considered the issues involved in the review very carefully and it is important that the government has the opportunity to do the same. It would not be appropriate for me to pre-empt the government's final consideration of the report's recommendations.