Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 24 Mar 2013
The day before Thursday’s bizarre political leadership skirmish, the federal government dumped its much-touted anti-discrimination reforms, breaking an election promise but bringing relief to Christian leaders who had voiced concerns that church-run schools and aged care providers may be accused of unlawful discrimination for employing staff based on their religious beliefs and practices.
There were also fears that we could see the development of a religious freedom litigation culture similar to the culture that has developed in the United States.
The reforms have not been scuttled, but may be radically scaled back. Federal Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said “meticulous attention must be applied to striking the appropriate balance between the right to freedom of speech and the right to be protected from discrimination.”
The Australian Christian Lobby’s managing director, Jim Wallace, said many people were attracted to the shared faith ethos of an organisation’s staff, and Australian society “would become sterile if that diversity was lost.”
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.