Scott Morrison and Christian Porter gave a press conference today to announce their response to the Ruddock review into religious freedom and the formation of a National Integrity Commission.
In explaining the need for religious freedom legislation and a Religious Freedom Commissioner at the AHRC, Scott started out by telling us what a religious country Australia is as 70% of people nominated a religion in the 2016 census. It’s part of who we are.
And how the percentage of migrants identifying a religion was much higher. Multiculturalism.
And blessed be the atheist who must be equally protected from discrimination.
When pressed to give examples of religious discrimination today, Scott floundered until Christian helpfully stepped in recounting how a person who had expressed opposition to marriage equality on Facebook got sacked and had to sue for unfair dismissal. Which was kind of ironic as he was announcing the government’s support for religious schools to sack teachers if they express support for marriage equality.
Scott then remembered that someone had been blocked from entering a meeting somewhere because of their religion…then remembered they want to enshrine the right of religious groups to stop people from entering their premises so kind of mumbled something about exemptions.
After the thousands of submissions and wide consultation that led to the Ruddock review recommendations, they will now flick pass the five substantive ones to the Law Council to review the review for long enough to make it another government’s problem.
This wasn’t going quite as well as they’d hoped so they proudly announced their Christmas present to the Australian public – a National Integrity Commission….well two of them actually, but they won’t hold hearings or publish conclusions. They will just investigate stuff and then pass it on to the DPP.
“What kind of stuff?” a reporter asked. “Do you mean like Michaelia Cash’s office tipping off the media about a police raid?”
“No, no… This will just be for aggravated criminal offences.”
“But that is a criminal offence.”
“Yes…errr…ummm…If criminal behaviour was shown to be ongoing….ummm…if it was say….ummm benefitting from giving out contracts for example….er….if it was aggravated behaviour….”
PM to the rescue to tell us how bad the NSW ICAC was and that this will not be a political witch hunt like the NSW ICAC where good men’s lives were destroyed. People were labelled as criminals but many of the findings were overturned by the courts.
Gee….I seem to remember Dyson Hayden saying some pretty damning things very publicly about the thugs and criminals in the union movement which fizzled off into nothingness. Not to mention Peter Slipper.
If they said it once, they said it a hundred times – this wasn’t anything to do with Labor who just have a press release. This was a body of work that began last January and that had been methodically discussed and worked through with the Cabinet.
Except, it was less than a month ago – November 19th to be exact – that Christopher Pyne said on Sky News….
“Look, we have a number of different bodies which are already over-sighting federal politicians. The new Independent Parliamentary Expenses Authority, of course the Australian federal police, which has its own particular division which deals with fraud and so on in public office. It’s the easiest thing to do is call for another organisation costing money, giving it extra powers. I don’t think that’s necessary at the national level and it’s just another way of Bill Shorten trying to distract people from the real issues that matter around jobs, the economy, national security, border protection.”
Nice try guys but I don’t think anyone’s buying it. The U-turn left skid marks.