Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 13 Hansard (Tuesday, 27 November 2018) . . Page.. 4882 ..
questions and put it into a succinct document that stands up to contract law. This government needs to provide some practical advice to the schools so that there is no entrapment, especially for all the schools that will seek to do the right thing.
It will be very difficult for schools to be able to workshop these policies, draft them, internally consult, consult with unions and then seek board, council or diocesan approval in the time frame that the government has stipulated. I note that the legislation says six months from the date of enactment or when the minister chooses. I would like to receive an assurance that it is not going to be for the start of term 1 of 2019. I will be moving an amendment that calls on the Assembly to put in place a 1 July 2019 start date, as I think that is fair. But in the event that that amendment does not get up, I hope that we will at least get an assurance that it will be some months away, to enable schools to get their policies in order.
I have real concerns about the religious freedom aspects of this legislation. I believe that Christian schools should be able to deliver a Christian education. I believe that Catholic schools should be able to deliver a Catholic education. I believe that Anglican schools should be able to deliver an Anglican education. I believe that Islamic schools should be able to deliver an Islamic education. It is a shame that this sort of stuff has to be said in the Assembly, but it seems that some people here do not actually believe that. It seems that there is doubt; it seems that there is real concern amongst those opposite about the quality of education being provided by the non-government school sector in the ACT.
That is not a concern shared by this side of the Assembly. We appreciate the role that these schools play—not just now but the role that these schools play having regard to the next generation of students, the next generation of people in our society. Regardless of whether you are talking about a government school or a non-government school, they should have the ability to deliver what parents want. They should have the ability to deliver what parents choose. I think that the omission of 33(2) is very damaging to this cause, and that is why we will be moving an amendment, to try to get some reason in this legislation.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (5.05): The Canberra community is proud to celebrate and embrace diversity. We know that 74 per cent of Canberrans voted yes for marriage equality in last year’s postal survey. We also know that 74 per cent of Australian voters oppose laws that allow religious schools to select students and teachers based on their sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status. Therefore, we must ensure that our laws in the ACT reflect the views and expectations of Canberrans.
The Discrimination Amendment Bill 2018 will create safer and more inclusive school environments by protecting students, teachers and education staff from discrimination on the basis of sexuality, gender identity, race, relationship status, pregnancy or intersex status. This bill will strengthen protections against discrimination and ensure that religious educational institutions have a limited exemption to discriminate against employees and contractors, and students on admission only, on the grounds of religious conviction.