Weekend Wrap for 12 October 2019

There’s plenty to unpack following our National Press Club debate! This Weekend Wrap will help you catch up on news and views on the Religious Discrimination Bill, as well as other issues of concern to secular Australians.

Don’t forget that the Weekend Wrap, which aims to help secular-minded Australians keep abreast of news, is also published on our Facebook page!

From the Debate

The Australian Christian Lobby denied that it had a vendetta against LGBTIQ+ people after it argued for religious employers to be able to hire and fire people who did not conform to a “Christian sexual ethic” (The Guardian).

The Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles said the protections in the Religious Discrimination Bill would be “genuinely helpful” to combat what he saw as a “rising trend of intolerance” toward people of faith (SBS).

The Morrison government’s ‘religious freedom’ bill would not foster respect or mutual tolerance in the community, argued our ambassador and Reason Party leader Fiona Patten (Nine News).

In this radio interview, Fiona Patten reflects on the debate and discusses the “dangerous” elements of the bill (Joy FM).

The National View

Two of Australia’s largest industry groups have warned of the potential for increased conflict in workplaces if the Morrison government’s ‘religious freedom’ legislation was to pass the parliament (The Age).

Religious health practitioners would be empowered to put their own religious beliefs ahead of the needs of patients under the Morrison government’s proposed ‘religious freedom’ laws, warn human rights and health advocacy groups (The Guardian).

Devout Catholic and Labor Senator Deborah O'Neill has argued that an "ascendancy of language around secularity" was trying to silence the perspectives of people of faith and creating division (The Age).

‘No’ voters in the same-sex marriage plebiscite were “promised” guarantees that would protect religious freedom, according to Senator Eric Abetz (Out in Perth).

Health Minister Greg Hunt has indicated he would not support moves by an Australian territory to legalise voluntary assisted dying (Canberra Times).

Some legal experts have rejected claims that indigenous spirituality and beliefs would not be covered in the Religious Discrimination Bill (The Australian).

Sacked rugby star Israel Folau has claimed that he never agreed to restrictions on his social media use (SBS).

Around the Country

TAS: The state government has been widely criticised for not making a formal submission to the Religious Discrimination Bill, despite the proposed legislation set to override Tasmania’s strong anti-discrimination laws (ABC).

TAS: The Law Society of Tasmania has raised its concerns about the ‘religious freedom’ bill, warning that it could create "inconsistencies" and "bolster" the rights of some at the expense of others (Canberra Times).

NSW: Protests against the Religious Discrimination Bill were scheduled to take place today in Sydney (Star Observer).

QLD: A UNESCO scientist will call on the state government to review its policy on religious instruction in state schools and replace it with the study of world views when she meets Education Minister Grace Grace this week (Brisbane Times).

QLD: A new survey that shows 60 per cent of Queenslanders oppose religion being taught during school hours has increased pressure on the Palaszczuk government to launch a review into religious instruction in state schools (Courier Mail).

QLD: Alison Courtice, spokesperson for the Queensland Parents for Secular State Schools, believes politics is the main reason for reluctance on the state government’s part to review religious instruction (ABC Radio Brisbane – listen in from the 10:35 mark to the 20:30 mark).

NSW: Students at a Catholic college have been embroiled in branch-stacking scheme to ouster sitting federal MP Alex Hawke (SMH).

WA: Federal government minister Ken Wyatt has joined fellow Aboriginal politician Pat Dodson in publicly opposing voluntary assisted dying laws in their state (WA Today).

VIC: A city councillor will push for warning signs to be erected in front of Catholic churches in Melbourne if they refuse to declare whether they will abide by the state’s new mandatory reporting laws (The Age).

Commentary and Analysis

Dr Luke Beck, a constitutional law expert and an ambassador for the National Secular Lobby, writes that the Morrison government has snuck the “right to be a bigot” clause into its draft Religious Discrimination Bill (SMH).

The Morrison government’s goal to end religious discrimination will be in peril if legislation is rushed, goes beyond what the public wants and becomes a lawyer’s picnic, writes Lisa Davies (The Age).

Michael Koziol ponders why it seems Australia spends so much time listening to the demands of the churches (The Age).

That's it for another week!

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