Senator the Hon Michaelia Cash

Shadow Attorney-General

Shadow Minister for Employment and Workplace Relations

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Senator for Western Australia


25 MARCH 2024

Labor’s Religious Discrimination Package Descends into High Farce

The Albanese Government’s management of their Religious Discrimination legislation has now reached a farcical level, with stakeholders and journalists now asking the Opposition for briefings about the Government’s legislation.

“The Albanese Government needs to publish its Religious Discrimination legislation as soon as possible. Mr Albanese could introduce the Religious Discrimination Bill in Parliament this week if he wanted to, but for some reason he wants this whole process to be kept behind closed doors,” said Shadow Attorney-General Michaelia Cash.

The Albanese Government provided a copy of draft legislation to the Opposition last week, but has imposed strict conditions on the Coalition, with a prohibition on distributing the legislation to third parties.

“Mr Albanese went to the election talking about transparency, but his Government has failed to live up to his promises.”

“We have copies of the Government’s draft legislation, but we are not allowed to distribute it. We are allowed to speak with stakeholders about the legislation, but to our surprise and alarm it seems that many groups simply don’t know what’s in it.”

“It appears the Albanese Government has left many stakeholders out of the consultation process and others are unsure about what they can and cannot discuss. This is unacceptable.”

“We are now in the absurd situation where the Opposition has been asked to provide briefings on the Government’s own legislation.”

“This is a mess entirely of the Government’s making,” Senator Cash said.

Senator Cash said the Coalition would continue to speak to stakeholders about the Government’s proposals, but the Government’s lack of transparency on this matter was hampering the consultation process.

The Opposition will work to try and secure a position which takes faith communities forward, and not backwards. However, it is concerning that the Government is already attempting to

rule out an inquiry on very significant legislation, which departs from models that have previously been considered by the Parliament.

“If Mr Albanese genuinely wants bipartisan support for his proposals, he needs to have his legislation out there for public scrutiny. This matter cannot be dealt with behind closed doors.” Senator Cash said.