Winding up order issued for Christian Democratic Party

“A winding-up order to dissolve Fred Nile’s Christian Democratic Party (CDP) has been issued by Justice Black of the NSW Supreme Court. …”

– Report from Eternity News.

The story of the Bible in Australasia, 1788-1850

Dr Meredith Lake, author of The Bible in Australia: a cultural history, is speaking on “The story of the Bible in Australasia, 1788-1850” on Wednesday 6th April at Moore College.

Details here.

Religious Discrimination Bill stalled by hasty amendments — Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney Media Statement

Anglican Church Diocese of Sydney

Media Statement

Religious Discrimination Bill stalled by hasty amendments

We are deeply disappointed that the passage of the Religious Discrimination Bill has been stalled. People of faith have been waiting for this since 2018, and there seems to be broad agreement on both sides of the House that legal protection against discrimination on the basis of religious belief is necessary and long overdue.

It is regrettable that the passage of the Religious Discrimination Bill – which is about Religious Discrimination, and Religious Discrimination only – is being held hostage to rushed changes to the Sex Discrimination Act relating to students.

There have been claims that religious schools are harming trans and gay students and further claims that they want the legal right to do so. This is the opposite of what happens.  Religious schools provide exceptional pastoral care to all students (which is one of the reasons why parents choose to send their children to these schools).

Many MPs seem to have given scant regard to how to protect those of religious faith and the positive contribution of individuals, churches and religious organisations to the community. Instead, the central intent of the bill has been overshadowed and derailed by the discussion of the exemptions section of s38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act.

As we have seen from hasty amendments made in the middle of last night, this issue is complex, which is why it was referred to the Australian Law Reform Commission to address. Nevertheless, if the removal of s.38(3) is the only means by which the Bill can progress, we call on the government and opposition to work together to resolve the technical issues and bring this matter to a resolution before the next Federal election.

People of religious faith in Australia, of all beliefs and backgrounds, deserve the equal protection that such a bill was intended to give. The benevolent religious organisations they have established and maintain also need the stability that well-considered legislation would provide. There is goodwill on our part to proceed and we call for a bipartisan approach that would progress this very important Bill.

Bishop Michael Stead, Chair, Religious Freedom Reference Group and Bishop of South Sydney 

February 10, 2022.


Government “shelves religious freedom bill indefinitely”

From ABC News, 1:22pm:

“The government has indefinitely shelved its bid to overhaul religious freedom laws, leaving one of the Coalition’s central 2019 election commitments hanging in uncertainty.

After a marathon sitting of the House of Representatives, where laws passed early on Thursday, the government failed to bring the matter on for debate in the Senate.

Coalition sources have confirmed the government is all but guaranteed not to bring it back for debate when the Senate next sits in March.

That is because the government does not want further debate about religious freedoms to hijack its plans to sell a pre-election budget.”


Update: The Australian Christian Lobby’s Martyn Iles gave his take on the events of the day in this video.

Religious Discrimination Bill passes lower house along with SDA amendment

“This morning Australia woke up to the news that at an all-night sitting which concluded around 5 am, the House of Representatives has passed the Religious Discrimination Bill 2022. (The link there will take you to official Parliamentary site for the Bill; as I write the updated version given a third reading has not been published but should be later in the day.) The government amendments which I noted in a previous post were apparently all accepted.

There was an amendment moved by the Opposition which came very close to being accepted, but which in the end did not pass. (It can be seen here in the Opposition amendments document.) It would have introduced a prohibition on “religious vilification”. I do not think Australia needs more such laws; in the time available now let me link a paper I produced a few years ago on the dangers of limiting free speech in this way.

However, the package of bills also includes the Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2022, which saw an Opposition amendment accepted when 5 members of the government crossed the floor. …”

In this post at Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster summarises the current position, and gives some examples of how the changes to the bill could play out in a faith-based school.

“Rushed amendment has gutted the Religious Discrimination Bill package”

Here’s a media release from the Australian Christian Lobby:

“Rushed amendment has gutted the Religious Discrimination Bill package
10 February 2022

The Morrison Government should withdraw its Religious Discrimination Bills from the Senate after they have been completely undermined by the simultaneous voting down of section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act in the House of Representatives overnight, according to the Australian Christian Lobby.

Australian Christian Lobby’s National Director of Politics said, “The bills were intended to help faith-based schools, but they now do more harm than good.

‘Labor, independents and Liberals, Bridget Archer, David Sharma, Trent Zimmerman, Katie Allen and Fiona Martin voted for an amendment to remove section 38(3) of the Sex Discrimination Act which contains vital protections for religious schools. These protections have enabled faith-based schools to teach their religion and conduct their schools according to their faith values. The loss of this protection would outweigh any benefits that could be obtained by the Religious Discrimination Bill.

‘The Australian Christian Lobby withdraws its support for the Religious Discrimination Bill package and calls on the Morrison Government to now withdraw the Bills from the Senate.

‘Taking away protections for Christian schools is a price too high to pay for the passage of the Religious Discrimination Bill. The amendments voted on by Labor, independents and these Liberal MPs unnecessarily interfere with the operation of faith-based schools.

‘With the amendments so damaging to religious freedom, the Government should immediately withdraw the bills’ Ms Francis said.


– From The Australian Christian Lobby.

(Of course, the Australian Christian Lobby should not be confused with the Anglican Church League.)

Government amendments to Religious Discrimination bills

“Debate in the House of Representatives in the Federal Parliament resumed today on the package of bills dealing with religious discrimination. …

The second reading debate continues on Wednesday, I think, but the government has now released two sets of amendments it will be making to the bills. …”

– Assoc Professor Neil Foster posted this update late last night (8th February 2022) at Law and Religion Australia.

Image: Diocese of Sydney.

A small step forward for religious freedom – with Bishop Michael Stead

From The Pastor’s Heart:

“Religious Freedom will be debated in the Australian Parliament this week.

Two parliamentary reports were released late on Friday afternoon. MP’s and Senators have spent the weekend reading them.

The reports show the Coalition and Labor broadly in support of introducing improved protections for people of Faith.

The reports recommendations are set to go to the party rooms on Tuesday morning, and the House of Representatives as early as Tuesday afternoon.

Anglican Bishop Michael Stead is the new chair of Freedom for Faith.”

– Watch or listen at The Pastor’s Heart.

And please pray about the expected vote this afternoon (Tuesday 8th February).

See also:

Submission to the Senate Legal Affairs Committee on the Religious Discrimination Bill – Freedom for Faith.

Advance Australia Fair?

“Watching the Australia Day celebrations whilst on holiday was much more interesting and revealing than I had anticipated. Normally I am bored to tears by these kinds of events however I have to say that I was impressed, and I learned a great deal. It was like a cross between the BBC’s Children in Need, celebrating the good that charities and volunteers do, and BBC Scotland’s Hogmanay show – a bit kitsch and cliched, but nonetheless something that makes you glad to be Scottish – or in this case, Australian.

The wonderful work done by Australians throughout the country was highlighted and the music was… not bad.The fireworks and setting in Sydney harbour (as well as the 12 Apostles and other spectacular Aussie scenery) made one thankful to be an Australian – or in the case of yours truly – a guest in this wonderful country.

But the whole show also revealed something deeply disturbing. …”

– Sometimes it takes a visitor to our country to point out what we might otherwise miss. David Robertson writes at AP.

Religious school tells parents it will apply its religious beliefs

“The above heading doesn’t sound very exciting, does it? Isn’t that what one would expect, that a school set up to educate students in a particular religious view would apply those beliefs in its practices? But the press in Australia sees it differently, apparently.

School rules: Brisbane college expects students to denounce homosexuality’ is the way that the Sydney Morning Herald puts it (Jan 31). Citipointe Christian College has sent a letter to parents spelling out its views on a number of issues, letting them know that the College expects students and parents to be aware of these views if students are to be sent there.

Here I will comment on whether the College is legally justified in so doing. …”

– Neil Foster writes at Law and Religion Australia.

Richard Johnson to the inhabitants of New South Wales

In 1792, Chaplain to the Colony, the Rev. Richard Johnson, penned an evangelistic booklet which was thus addressed –

“To the British and other European Inhabitants of NEW SOUTH WALES and NORFOLK ISLAND.

My Beloved, I do not think it necessary to make an apology for putting this Address into your hands; or to enter into a long detail of the reasons which induced me to write it.

One reason may suffice. I find I cannot express my regard for you, so often, or so fully, as I wish, in any other way.

On our first arrival in this distant part of the world, and for some time afterwards, our numbers were comparatively small; and while they resided nearly upon one spot, I could not only preach to them on the Lord’s day, but also converse with them, and admonish them, more privately.

But since that period, we have gradually increased in number every year…

Read it all here (PDF file).

(Photo: Richard Johnson’s Address – copy held by Moore College.)

Related posts here.

Clarifying “transgender hate speech”

“An important appeal decision in November 2021, REP v CLINCH (Appeal)[2021] ACAT 106 (3 November 2021), provides significant clarification on what amounts to “transgender hate speech”, and what does not, under the law of Australian Capital Territory – and provides a helpful and persuasive set of reasons which may be influential in other jurisdictions.

Is it unlawful to say that ‘a trans woman is a man’? Not according to the Appeal Tribunal in the Rep decision …”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster looks at a clarifying decision.

Your voice needed on Religious Discrimination Bill

“Supporters of protection for religious freedom are being urged to take part in a survey by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, as the Parliament considers the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021. …”

Here’s post from on an important matter.

The survey referred to closes at 5:00pm on Tuesday 21st December.

The post also includes the questions from the survey.

Religious freedom bill in the House

“The Commonwealth has a Sex Discrimination Act, a Racial Discrimination Act, a Disability Discrimination Act and an age Discrimination Act. However, there is no standalone legislation to protect people of religion, of faith, against discrimination. Or indeed for those who choose not to have a faith or religion. The introduction of this Bill, the Religious Discrimination bill of 2021, will fix this.”

With these words, the Prime Minister introduced the long-awaited bill into the House of Representatives.

A coalition of faith leaders, including Archbishop Kanishka Raffel and Bishop Michael Stead had previously called for the bill to receive bi-partisan support. …

– At, Russell Powell has the latest on the Religious Discrimination Bill.

The Religious Discrimination Bill arrives

“After a long wait, the Federal government has released the text of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2021 which is about to be introduced into the Parliament. There has been no general Federal law dealing with detrimental treatment of Australians on the basis of their religious faith and activities, and this is a welcome development, implementing a recommendation of the Ruddock Review which reported in 2018.

The government previously released two “Exposure Drafts” of the Bill (see some comments on those in previous posts, here, and here.) Having promised prior to the last election that he would advance this law, Prime Minister Morrison will now introduce it into the House of Representatives. If passed by the House, the Bill will then need to approved by the Senate, where it seems likely to be referred to (yet another) committee before being voted on there, probably sometime in the New Year. …”

– At Law and Religion Australia, Neil Foster gives an overview of the Religious Discrimination Bill, and also indicates where it differs from previous drafts.

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