Statements by Senators – Religious Discrimination, Monday March 25, 2024

Senator BABET (Victoria—United Australia Party Whip) (13:48): I always thought that freedom of religion and freedom of association were foundational freedoms beyond interference from government, but, hey, I guess I was wrong. You can imagine my shock when the ALRC’s report on religious educational institutions and antidiscrimination laws was released just recently.

Christian school groups have labelled the report as ‘a direct attack on faith and freedom of belief in Australia’, and they say that, if the recommendations are adopted, ‘Christian education as we know it will cease to exist’. The recommendations will restrict who Christian schools can employ and what Christian teachers can teach. Since when does the government have the right to tell Christian schools what they must do, who they must employ and what their values and ethics should be?

If you don’t believe in the teachings of the Bible, then just stay away from Christian schools, just like I stay away from Labor and the Greens because I don’t believe in socialist ideology. Religious schools only exist because families want their children taught by people who believe in the teachings of the Bible, and that is their right. The Law Reform Commission’s recommendations are a shocking overreach of state power, and they deserve to be ridiculed. They really have no place in our society. Even if you are not a religious person, you, like every single one of us, should fight for the rights of religious people to practice their faith, to associate with people who share their faith and to raise their own children in accordance with their faith. For this reason, I completely reject the commission’s recommendations.