Transcript – 6PR – Perth Live with Oliver Peterson

Nov 23, 2021 | Federal News

23 November 2021


OLIVER PETERSON: The Federal Government will push ahead with the Religious
Discrimination Bill, this would shield Australians who make statements of belief from the
state anti-discrimination and equal opportunity laws and allow religious run businesses,
schools, hospitals, and aged care homes to prioritise the hiring of people from their own faith.
On the line from Parliament House in Canberra is the Attorney General Michaelia Cash.
Good afternoon.

MINISTER CASH: Good afternoon, Olly, and I’m well and truly in Canberra, I’m not sure if
you can hear the bells, in the background. The good news is I don’t have to run but the bells
are ringing so sorry about that.

OLIVER PETERSON: That’s all right. Could the very essence of this bill had the reverse
effect and actually discriminates against, say, somebody who’s of Jewish faith trying to work
in a Catholic aged care home?

MINISTER CASH: No. It’s generally accepted and in fact, there already are protections for
religious educational institutions to preference people of their own faith. That is already an
accepted exception in discrimination law across Australia. What this bill is doing is actually
filling the gap. We have a Sex Discrimination Act, we have an Age Discrimination Act, we
have a Disability Discrimination Act, and we have a Race Discrimination Act. However,
what we don’t have is a standalone piece of legislation to protect people of faith against
discrimination. And this bill will change all of that. And, you know, religious protection, Olly
it is an important issue for so many Australians. And that is what we are delivering on
protection from discrimination for people of faith.

OLIVER PETERSON: So if I make it simple, you’ve got a Catholic aged care home, three
candidates, two women are both Jewish one man who was a Catholic, will the Catholic bloke
get the job?

MINISTER CASH: That is absolutely up to the aged care centre or the religious body. But
there is an exemption in the legislation that allows them to preference in employment. And
that’s because it’s recognised that a religious school, a Catholic school, should be able to
employ Catholics, if they’re going to act in accordance with their doctrines, tenants and
beliefs. A Jewish school should be able to preference Jewish teachers, if that is their
preference, a Muslim school or an Islamic school should be able to preference people who
practice the Islamic faith, if that is their preference. And I think that is widely accepted across

OLIVER PETERSON: If one of these groups or organisations schools aged care homes
don’t identify as having a religious affiliation, can therefore, the person in doing the
employment or looking to recruit somebody use their own personal religion, or not for
employing somebody over somebody else.

MINISTER CASH: So what we’ve done in this bill is, we have the exemption for religious
bodies, so they are able to preference their own, in relation to in this case, employment. But
what we’ve also said that you can do so, if you have a publicly stated policy, so the policy, it
will set out why you are preferencing in relation to employment, how you intend to do that,
so we have transparency across the board. So for example, a Catholic school may say, we
would like to employ Catholics, they will therefore have a publicly available policy that will
outline the circumstances in which that Catholic school would rely on these provisions. If I
am then someone who is applying for the job at the Catholic school, I will actually know,
okay, this is what they want out of me. And we’re transparent all the way.

OLIVER PETERSON: So this is designed to protect somebody’s individual religious

MINISTER CASH: This is all about your religious beliefs, and your religious activity. And I
really do believe, so for example, what it does is really bring clarity and provide confidence
that Australians of faith regardless of their faith, but also including people who don’t have
faith, so for example, an atheist or an agnostic, they can have confidence that they will be
protected from discrimination. And I think some of the examples that people have put to me,
a Sikh should not be discriminated against because of the turban they wear. A Christian
person should not be discriminated against because of the crucifix they may wear around
their neck. A Muslim employee who keeps a prayer rug, at work, none of those people should
be discriminated against on the basis of their faith and the same way, nor should a religious
school seeking to employ someone of their faith that, if is their preference, and they have a
publicly stated policy. Why should they be discriminated against?

OLIVER PETERSON: Under these laws, would Israel Folau have been sacked by Rugby
Australia for sharing his religious interpretations regarding homosexuals?

MINISTER CASH: So that’s an entirely separate issue and that was actually a contractual
issue between Rugby Australia and Israel Folau and they’ve settled that. But what this bill
does provide is that a person is able to make a statement of belief, it needs to be a statement,
that that is made in good faith. They can express their personal belief in good faith, and that
will not constitute discrimination. If, however, that statement is malicious, or if it’s designed
to intimidate, or harass or vilify someone, then clearly that is different. But what this bill does
is protect the statement of belief in and of itself but if you act on that statement in a
detrimental way, you will lose the protection of this particular bill.

OLIVER PETERSON: Your government seems to be fighting a few fires on a few fronts.
Coalition backbenchers, like Matt Canavan and George Christiansen demanding a list of
vaccine freedoms. Who needs an opposition Michaelia Cash when you’ve got the dissent in
the ranks?

MINISTER CASH: Well, look, I have to say despite what we are seeing, you know,
publicly and I suppose sort of say the media reports, you know, the Senate is functioning
well. I got some really important national security legislation through the Senate yesterday in
relation to high risk terrorist offenders. I will get another piece of national security legislation
through the Senate today. You know, we are working with our colleagues. That is the nature
of politics, but you know, we will continue to deliver as a government for the Australian
people and certainly, that’s why we are putting in place the Religious Discrimination Bill to
deliver on the commitment that we talked to the last election, that the Australian people voted
for, and that we will now deliver on.

OLIVER PETERSON: Crossbencher Jacqui Lambie today calling Scott Morrison the worst
Prime Minister in history. Are you up against it?

MINISTER CASH: I completely, you would understand, do not agree with that statement by
Senator Lambie, but certainly Senator Lambie is entitled to her opinion. But you know, we’ll
make our case to the Australian people.

OLIVER PETERSON: Before you go. Do you support moves from within the WA Liberal
Party to expel the clan members Peter Collier, Nick Goiran and Ian Goodenough?

MINISTER CASH: I support moves within the WA Liberal Party to focus on one thing and
one thing alone. And that is ensuring that we present our case to the Western Australian
people as to why the Federal WA liberal team should be returned early next year, and why
Scott Morrison should be returned as the Prime Minister of Australia. I have made my
position to the WA Liberal Party very, very clear. We have one focus and one focus alone
and that is winning the federal election as the WA federal team.

OLIVER PETERSON: Attorney General, appreciate your time. Thank you very much.

MINISTER CASH: Always good to be with Olly



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