Introducing the Religious Discrimination Bill to parliament has become a “more pressing” priority for the Morrison government as the country moves towards a post COVID-19 future, according to a government senator tasked with resuscitating the widely criticised legislation.
Speaking at Senate Estimates last week, Senator Amanda Stoker said she had been working closely with Christian Porter and now Michaelia Cash to deliver the legislation before the upcoming election.
“(The COVID response) is what we’ve been working on as our first priority, but, as we emerge from that COVID crisis period, (the Religious Freedom Bill) is becoming more pressing,” she said.
“I can’t give you a date, but I can say that it is something that we are keen to deliver on before the next election and something that we are still very keen to make sure that we are able to deliver upon for Australians.”
Last month, the Rationalist Society of Australia – which has teamed up with a number of pro-secular community groups as part of the #DontDivideUs campaign against the legislation – reported that a ‘compromise’ draft of the legislation was now ready to be presented to parliament.
Since entering the parliament in 2018, Senator Stoker has been a vocal advocate for ‘religious freedom’ and the role of Christianity in government and in society.
She is co-chair of the Parliamentary Christian Fellowship, which aims to provide fellow parliamentarians with “opportunity for reflective discussion on biblical themes to both sustain and strengthen our daily walks with Jesus Christ” and hosts an annual prayer breakfast event.
She has been a regular attendee at the annual Church & State summit, which was recently exposed as a Christian Right event where activists and politicians discuss how Christians can infiltrate political parties. The logo for that event features seven mountains, which suggests it supports the Dominionist political project of installing Christian dominance in society’s major institutions.
At the Estimates hearing on Tuesday, Senator Stoker said that, since she was appointed to the role in December, she had held many meetings and teleconferences with “people who wish to be heard” on the Religious Discrimination Bill.
“There is a lot of community interest in ensuring that the bill is both delivered and that it is effective in meeting its objectives.”
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Si Gladman is Campaigns & Communications Coordinator at the Rationalist Society of Australia. You can contact him at [email protected].