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Federal Religious Freedom Laws

5 September 2019

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

Today landmark human rights reforms, which your Government fought every step of the way and Labor now is sadly distancing itself from, come into effect and transgender Tasmanians are celebrating.

Ms Haddad - How have I distanced myself?

Ms O'CONNOR - You are not Labor, you are Ms Haddad.

Premier, the religious freedom laws being introduced by your federal colleagues will override Tasmania's anti-discrimination law and hurt this community as well as people with disability, women and members of racial and religious minorities. You have received a letter from Equality Tasmania respectfully asking that you convene a round table to hear concerns about the bill before you resolve and announce your Government's position, and formally requesting the federal Attorney-General, Christian Porter, to conduct a consultation about the bill in Tasmania and hear from representatives of affected communities. Will you commit to taking these actions on behalf of the vulnerable Tasmanians you are elected to represent.

 

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the true leader of the opposition for the question. As I have said in relation to the federal draft exposure bill that has been circulated across the nation, we will, of course, consult appropriately with Tasmanians and those who represent groups with a direct interest in this area. We will, of course, respond formally to the federal government with our views on their legislation, but also importantly how it intersects with Tasmanian law as has been flagged.

In relation to gender recognition on birth certificates, yes, we did, as the law makers, as the responsible government that we are, express our grave concerns as to how the legislation that was brought into this House was handled. These are important laws. We respect that the fact that they have a direct impact on Tasmanians. Many people do not agree with them. There are certainly contrary views. It is important that legislation of complex and significant legal consequence is appropriately debated and considered through this parliament.

We had a heavily amended bill, received back from the Legislative Council, which we were expected to debate immediately. In the absence of the responsible minister, I took carriage of the bill and handled it well, I thought. It is an unusual process, to say the least, for a bill such as this, as important as you say it is. The Justice and Related Legislation Marriage Amendment Bill was fundamentally different to the one that Labor and the Greens pushed through the House of Assembly last year.

Ms O'Connor - Not fundamentally.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, Ms O'Connor.

Mr HODGMAN - Yet they rushed through that bill, which was a complete re-write of what they claimed last year was sound law. It was rushed at every stage. It was another example of Labor and the Greens working very closely on this.

Ms O'Connor - It was a six-month process.

Mr HODGMAN - It is not that long ago that we saw the by-product of Labor and the Greens working together. I know the Leader of the Opposition wants to distance herself from all that now but at the time it was very much a team effort by Labor and the Greens which, unfortunately, in our view -

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order, please.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I urge the Premier, given that we are talking about marginalised people to be careful with his language and not needlessly create division over this issue, please.

Madam SPEAKER - Thank you.

Ms O'CONNOR - There are people who are celebrating today over at Rosny.

Madam SPEAKER - It is not a point of order, but I know the Premier will be respectful.

Mr HODGMAN - We thought it was an inappropriate way to progress law reform of this nature in such a fashion. We have had, as a government, referred these matters to the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute before the Marriage Bill was even debated in the House of Assembly, so it demonstrates our commitment to good process and getting expert input.

Members interjecting.

Mr HODGMAN - We did have strong representations for some of Tasmania's leading legal experts about the legislation. Because the Greens and Labor were not prepared to consider those consequences, we did say very strongly that we anticipated circumstances that might arise from the legislation. Indeed, we have committed to undertake or consult and then review its implementation, as is required.

Ms O'CONNOR - Point of order, Madam Speaker. I am not interested in what the Premier is saying. Standing order 45, relevance. A question has been put to you about a letter from Equality Tasmania about convening a round table and asking Christian Porter to do the same.

Madam SPEAKER - That is not a point of order, but you have it on Hansard.

Mr HODGMAN - I answered that in the very first part of my question. Of course, I will appropriately respond to correspondence received.