Coalition ‘pauses’ independent inquiry

Justice Sarah Derrington (Australian Law Reform Commission)

The Morrison Government has torpedoed an independent inquiry into the impact of anti-discrimination laws on faith-based schools and organisations. Source: News.com.au.

The Australian Law Reform Commission was part-way through a review into religious exemptions in anti-discrimination laws. It had conducted several consultations and was preparing to publish a discussion paper early next month.

But at the end of August, the commission was approached by the Government, a Senate estimates hearing was told yesterday. Its terms of reference were significantly narrowed and reporting date pushed back by eight months.

The commission was told to confine its recommendation to legislation other than a religious freedom bill being pursued by the Government. Its role was effectively reduced to a drafting exercise, ensuring the sex discrimination and fair work acts were consistent with the Government’s bill.

As a consequence, ALRC president Sarah Derrington has “paused” the commission’s inquiry. It is now due to report at the end of next year.

Justice Derrington said she didn’t want to consult people twice on the same issues.

“The terms of reference as originally drafted were quite narrow in any event but they are narrower again,” she told the Senate estimates hearing. “To be quite frank, I don’t think there will be much for us to inquire into post the Government’s bill.”

Labor senator Kim Carr asked whether the ALRC had been “cut out” of the action.

“That’s one interpretation, yes,” Justice Derrington said.

FULL STORY

Coalition annuls religious freedom review (News.com.au

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