Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 November 2018) . . Page.. 4889 ..
equality and non-discrimination and the rights of children and young people to the protection they require at school.
The other question that has arisen is the commencement date. As Mr Coe observed in his remarks, there is an indication in the bill that it will commence within six months, if not determined by the minister. I can assure Mr Coe and the Assembly that it is not the government’s intention to start this immediately, and I flagged with Mr Coe yesterday that we had a time in April in mind. We have now affirmed that the date that will be set for the introduction of this act is 29 April 2019. That is around the time frame the government had in mind.
Having looked a little more closely at the calendar, that also aligns with the start of term 2. It seems a useful fixture point on the calendar that is clear. I think it gives schools the time to prepare policies if they feel the need to do so under the act and does not put in place a requirement that this be in place by the start of first term next year. That is not our intention.
There are different applications here. One is to staff and one is to students. The longer we delay this does leave the door open for the potential for discrimination against staff particularly. I think it is fair to observe that many students for 2019 will already be enrolled in a school of their choice. I do not think it is necessary to have a start date for first term. The government is committing today that that commencement date will be 29 April 2019. I now table the revised explanatory statement for the bill and I commend the bill to the Assembly.
Question resolved in the affirmative.
Bill agreed to in principle.
Bill, by leave, taken as a whole.
MR COE (Yerrabi—Leader of the Opposition) (5.31), by leave: I move amendments Nos 1 and 2 circulated in my name together [see schedule 2 at page 4917] and table a supplementary explanatory statement to the amendments.
As I already flagged in my earlier speech, I have real concerns about the religious freedom aspects of the government’s proposed legislation. The removal of section 33(2) does leave a gaping hole in this legislation and in the ACT’s legal framework with regard to religious freedom as it applies to schools. The fact that there are enough vagaries around this issue that Mr Rattenbury feels he needs to add additional text in the explanatory statement affirms my concern. If it is so black and white, if there is no doubt, why is it that additional information is required in the explanatory statement which can be called upon for interpretation, as Mr Rattenbury said?
As I have already said, I firmly believe that the non-government schools of Canberra do a great job. They deliver education in a tolerant and compassionate way. I have