Page 626 - Week 02 - Thursday, 20 February 2020

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MADAM SPEAKER: There is no point of order.

Mrs Jones: It is not a point of order. I was asking for your advice.

MADAM SPEAKER: The minister has two minutes to respond to a question. Often questions are repeated. So ministers are able to say, “I refer to the previous answer.” Minister.

MR STEEL: I am happy to come back to the Assembly on the number of bus stops that will be reopening as a result of the changes that we are making in the network 19 update from term 2.

MISS C BURCH: Minister, how many bus stops have been removed and how many will be reinstated?

MR STEEL: I refer the member to the answer to the supplementary question.

Religious freedom legislation—government submission

MS CHEYNE: My question is to the Chief Minister. Chief Minister, why did the ACT government make a submission on the federal government’s proposed religious freedom bills?

MR BARR: The ACT government made a submission on the commonwealth’s religious freedom bills because we have grave concerns about the effect of this legislation on Canberrans, and indeed on Australians, should it become law. These commonwealth changes, if enacted, will not just affect someone else; they will affect us all. They will serve to marginalise and discriminate against our family members and friends.

The commonwealth bill puts religious protections above other protected attributes. Rather than protect religious freedom, the bill will enshrine religious privilege above other fundamental human rights. The bill will explicitly override state and territory anti-discrimination laws.

Human rights are universal, not partial, and we should protect everyone in the ACT, regardless of their gender, race, disability, religious belief or any other protected attribute. The ACT government will stand up for all of our residents to ensure that they are respected and protected; are able to exercise their civil and political rights; and, most importantly, are equal before the law.

MS CHEYNE: What are some of the potential implications for Canberrans if the legislation were to pass in its current form?

MR BARR: The range of harm that would be licensed and encouraged under the proposed commonwealth bill is disturbing. It would affect so many areas of life. For example, the bill would create a new legal basis and protection for health practitioners such as doctors and nurses to refuse to provide essential reproductive health services.

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