Attorney-General Christian Porter pushes back on ‘Folau’s law’ idea

Mr Porter is preparing to pre sent a religious discrimination bill to Parliament as soon as July. This was a Coalition election commitment and was born out of Philip Ruddock’s religious freedom review, completed last year.

Emboldened by the strong support from religious voters at the recent federal election, some Coalition MPs are now calling for more far-reaching religious freedom provisions in the new laws.

Mr Folau was sacked by Rugby Australia earlier this month after a social media post that said gay people and adulterers would go to hell. The former Wallabies star has said he is considering his options, including legal action.

Mr Joyce said Mr Folau’s case «got a lot of people annoyed» during the election. The Nationals MP said: «People were a little bit shocked that someone could lose their job because of what they believe.»

But Mr Porter told 6PR radio on Thursday that the Folau case was a «very complicated legal question».

In comments that appear to take the wind out of Mr Joyce’s push, the Attorney-General also said: «People enter into employment contracts of their own volition all the time, and contracts of a number of types with a number of terms.»

«What I would say is that we’re not necessarily in the business in government of trying to prevent individuals privately contracting the terms of their employment in a fair and balanced and reasonable way with their employer in a range circumstances.»

Credit:Illustration: Cathy Wilcox

Earlier this week, NSW Liberal senator Concetta Fierravanti-Wells said the government did not need to wait for the findings of a review being undertaken by the Australian Law Reform Commission into exemptions to anti-discrimination laws currently enjoyed by religious schools.

Senator Fierravanti-Wells worked with faith leaders to galvanise their support during the election campaign.

«Whilst the ALRC is not due to report until [April] 2020, given its diverse and broad terms of reference, I believe that the recent election has reinforced the need for more immediate legislative action,» she said earlier this week.

Mr Porter on Thursday confirmed that the government would wait for the Law Reform Commission’s report. He noted this was a separate piece of work to the upcoming religious discrimination bill.

With Michael Koziol

Judith Ireland is a political reporter for the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, based at Parliament House

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