Senate debates

Thursday, 10 December 2020


COVID-19: Church Services

7:19 pm

Photo of Deborah O'NeillDeborah O'Neill (NSW, Australian Labor Party) Share this | Hansard source

Labor supports most of this motion in principle but will not support the government on its call in part (b) for state and territory governments to ignore the advice of health professionals. That's why we ask the President to call for separate votes on part (a) and part (b) this evening.

Labor wholeheartedly supports the freedom to manifest one's religious views. Indeed, it's a fundamental right for all. Australia is a pluralist democracy. Christmas is an important religious event for people of faith and people of no faith alike. It's a season that stretches out across the entire population and calls us to gather with family and friends to give thanks for the many blessings of each year and to share reflections of the year past in the season of peace, hope and love. Many Australians will be keen to attend religious services. The first night of Hanukkah will be celebrated tonight. On 25 December—and for those of the Orthodox traditions who will celebrate Christmas twice by gathering again on 7 January—we urge all state and territory governments to support the largest safe religious gatherings possible in line with health advice in those jurisdictions. Paragraph (b), however, we cannot support, as it will force state and territory governments to ignore health advice.


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