Religious Discrimination Bill and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill

TasCOSS strongly opposes both the Religious Discrimination Bill and the proposed changes to the Marriage Act and urges the Committee to reject them. Regarding the Bill, we do not believe any amendments could produce an acceptable piece of legislation and urge the Committee to recommend the Australian Government draft a conventional discrimination bill that simply adds the prohibition of discrimination on the grounds of religious affiliation, belief and practice to an existing federal discrimination law, without allowing discrimination in the name of religion.

We also wish to lodge our objection to the unreasonably short timeframe in which to make a submission on a complex piece of legislation that has far-reaching consequences for all Australians. Such timeframes do not suggest a genuine interest in exploring these consequences. We also wish to object to the wording of the survey, which appears designed to only elicit responses in support of the legislative package. This too is not consistent with a genuine and objective interest in canvassing the views of the Australian public.

Further, if passed, the Bill will have a profound impact on the legislative and social landscape in Tasmania with respect to protection from discrimination. We therefore request the Committee hear directly from a panel of Tasmanian civic organisations, including TasCOSS, when hearings commence.