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Federal Religious Freedom Bill

11 September 2019

 

Ms O'CONNOR question to MINISTER for MENTAL HEALTH and WELLBEING, Mr ROCKLIFF

As you are aware, yesterday was Suicide Prevention Day. As you may also be aware, suicide rates and self-harm amongst LGBTI people, particularly young people and transgender people, is significantly higher than the average populations. As Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, do you support your federal colleagues' push for the so-called religious freedom bill, which will make it easier for bigots to humiliate, harass, harm and hurt the mental wellbeing of LGBTI Tasmanians?

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question. Yesterday was a very important day for our community, World Suicide Prevention Day, and it was good to take part in a moving event yesterday morning. It highlighted the importance of mental health and wellbeing in our community.

Ms O'Connor - For everyone.

Mr ROCKLIFF - For everyone, absolutely.

Ms O'Connor - So, condemn the religious freedom bill.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please Ms O'Connor, warning two.

Mr ROCKLIFF - This Government has demonstrated its absolute commitment to mental health and wellbeing and investing in the areas of priority, including suicide prevention. It is clear in our demonstrated leadership toward a state of kindness, as reflected in the anti-bullying forum we had only a month or so ago.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker, Standing Order 45, relevance. The minister has been speaking for a minute and has not addressed the question, which relates specifically to LGBTI people and the harm that will be caused to them if your colleague's federal religious freedom bill is passed.

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you very much, Ms O'Connor. That is not a point of order and he had been speaking for two minutes and 15 seconds.

Ms O'Connor - Yes, without dealing with the question.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I was relating my answer to your question. It is important that we listen to all the views of the community. I am well aware of sections of the community and their views with relation to the federal Government's draft release of the Religious Discrimination Bill 2019 for consultation. The bill prohibits discrimination on the grounds of religious belief or activity and establishes a new office of freedom of religion commissioner. We have received a copy of the Commonwealth Government's draft bill and we are seeking advice on how it interacts with Tasmanian law and any constitutional issues that may arise.

Ms O'Connor - It overrides it.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I understand the member's question.

Ms O'Connor - I have read the Constitution.

Madam SPEAKER - Order. Does anyone realise you must speak through the Chair? Please proceed, minister.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I understand the member's question and I understand where the question is coming from, absolutely. This bill has to be very well consulted. As Minister for Mental Health and Wellbeing, I am taking a great interest of the views of all stakeholders within our community as to the impacts of this Commonwealth bill.