Weekend Wrap for 31 August 2019

This edition of the Weekend Wrap shares links to just a selection of the mountains of the news and analysis following the government's release of its draft religious discrimination bills. The proposed laws have deepened divisions within the coalition, among religious groups and in the wider community.

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The National View

Church leaders have renewed their demands for stronger religious protections and criticised Attorney-General for a “lack of consultation” in drafting the legislation (The Australian).

Under draft laws, large businesses would only be able to restrict an employee from expressing their religious beliefs outside of work if they can prove it causes "unjustifiable financial hardship" (The Age).

Anglican Bishop Michael Stead has raised concerns about the so-called ‘Folau clause’ in the draft legislation, arguing it would act as “gag” on employees (Brisbane Times).

Labor’s shadow attorney Mark Dreyfus said the government did not consult with his party before releasing the package of religious freedom bills and urged it to now give the wider community a chance to be involved (Herald Sun).

LGBTIQ+ groups have condemned the religious discrimination bills for enshrining “religious exceptionalism” by giving new privileges to people of faith while overriding existing protections for others (The Guardian).

The Australlian Christian Lobby is concerned about “flaws” in the proposed legislation but is pleased to have an “open door to consult” with the government (ABC).

Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells believes the bills are “likely to fall far short” of addressing religious institutions’ concerns (ABC).

Former Tasmanian anti-discrimination commissioner Robin Banks has attacked the proposed bills for overriding state discrimination laws (The Guardian).

Right-wing think tank IPA has identified “many problems” in the draft bill and has implored the government to provide more time to “avoid counter-productive and unintended consequences” (IPA Today).

Around the Country

WA: With debate beginning in parliament on voluntary assisted dying, Premier Mark McGowan said he was supporting legalising end-of-life options based on "logic and freedom" (WA Today).

WA: Opposition leader Liza Harvey told parliament of her late husband’s wish to access euthanasia in Switzerland, but says she is yet to decide how she will vote on the voluntary assisted dying bill (WA Today).

QLD: New polling shows an overwhelming majority of Queenslanders – 80 per cent – want the Palaszczuk government to deal with voluntary assisted dying laws as a matter of urgency (Courier Mail).

ACT: The Barr Labor government will push the federal government to allow the territory to vote on voluntary assisted dying (Riot ACT).

VIC: Eleven people have accessed voluntary assisted dying, according to a review into the state’s new laws (The Age).

VIC: The opposition has decided to support the Andrews government’s mandatory reporting legislation that extends to priests, ensuring enough support to pass through both houses of parliament (The Age).

VIC: In a parliamentary debate on proposed mandatory reporting laws, Labor MP Paul Edbrooke opened up about the sexual abuse his father suffered at the hands of a Catholic clergyman (The Age).

NSW: Anti-abortion campaigners are winning the battle in cyberspace, with new analysis showing that their social media pages are far more active and have much larger followings (ABC).

Commentary and Analysis

The proposed religious discrimination legislation goes too far in prioritising religious rights over all others and in providing too many broad and special protections to people of faith, write Liam Elphick and Alice Taylor (The Conversation).

Liam Elphick, Amy Maguire and Anja Hilkemeijer explore the diffferences between the government’s religious discrimination bills and other federal discrimination laws (The Conversation).

LGBTIQ+ equality campaigner Rodney Croome argues that the draft religious discrimination legislation, if enacted, would be setback for Australia’s fair and inclusive society (The Age).

The greatest test for the Prime Minister in advancing his religious discrimination package will be to appease those within the coaltion, writes Laura Tingle (ABC).

In “opening a can of worms”, writes Peter Hoysted, the government will be hard-pressed to please everyone, as its religious freedom legislation also extends to all kinds of sects and cults (The Australian).

John Sandeman canvasses the split of opinion between Christian groups in reponse to the religious discrimination bills (Eternity News).

The Saturday Paper’s editorial asks whose freedom would be prioritised if a Muslim nurse is told to remove her hijab by a Catholic-run aged-care home (The Saturday Paper).

Stephen Stockwell and Ruby Jones take a look at how Pentecostalism is succeeding in Australia while other churches are struggling (ABC).

That's it for another week!

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