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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 November 2018) . . Page.. 4891 ..


I also included “is reasonable in the circumstances”. That was in response to the draft inclusion to the explanatory statement that Mr Rattenbury sent through yesterday. The concerns that he put to me I was happy to include in the draft amendment. I have since been told that they are not going to support that; they are not going to support the original amendment; they are not going to support my revised amendment; therefore, there is no point in my putting this forward today as a revised amendment. What we are debating now is my original amendment, which is:

Section 18 does not make it unlawful for an educational institution to require a student to participate in religious education at the institution if—

(a) the institution is conducted in accordance with the doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings of a particular religion or creed; and

(b) requiring the student to participate in religious education at the institution is intended to enable, or better enable, the institution to be conducted in accordance with those doctrines, tenets, beliefs or teachings.

Importantly, the definition of “religious education” includes:

… study religious education, attend religious services and observe religious practices.

That is pretty reasonable. In fact, it is very, very similar to what was in the legislation before. Nothing that I just read out would conflict with what the government wants to do with staff and students. Yet they do not want to include this in the legislation anymore.

As I said, I am happy to put additional things in there. I am happy to say that it has got to be reasonable; I am happy to say that it has got to be in accordance with the published policy. Yet even with the addition of those two clauses, they are still not willing to accept this amendment. That gets me very concerned about what this government’s real agenda is.

As I said at the very beginning, I am not aware of any instances where staff have been fired due to their sexuality or any instance where students have been suspended or expelled because of their sexuality—quite the opposite. I have seen situations where principals and other staff have provided immense support to students and to staff who are in these circumstances. There are many ways we could say this is a solution in search of a problem.

I think the non-government schools of Canberra do a great job, and they should not be demonised. They also should have the right to practise the faith tradition that they were established to promote, and that is what this amendment is all about. It is about a fundamental principle of religious freedom, and I urge those opposite to support it.

MR BARR (Kurrajong—Chief Minister, Treasurer, Minister for Social Inclusion and Equality, Minister for Tourism and Special Events and Minister for Trade, Industry and Investment) (5.40): The government will not be supporting Mr Coe’s amendments because they are solutions looking for problems. The bill as presented by


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