Together with the Executive Officer of AACS, Vanessa Cheng, CSA met with Hon Mark Dreyfus QC, the Shadow Attorney-General, and Senator Deborah O’Neill to discuss the proposed Commonwealth Religious Discrimination Bill and the 2020 ALP National Platform Consultation Draft.
The meeting was one of a number the ALP have undertaken, led by Senator O’Neill, with faith groups around the country on the ALP National Platform. This document, when finalised reflects the basis (platform) on which the ALP will develop policy positions both in Opposition and if they form Government. It is a wide ranging and extensive document, although far briefer and more readable than its predecessor.
The draft platform retains the ALP’s commitment to parental choice in schooling and a ‘properly funded national needs-based and sector-blind schools funding model’, continuing a long history of bi-partisan commitment to these principles. The draft platform acknowledges the important role played by families, although we encouraged the strengthening of this area. There is also a greater recognition and acknowledgement of religious freedom, although, again, we encouraged some further refinement in this area.
We also indicated to the Shadow Attorney-General that we would be calling on the Government to again progress the Commonwealth Religious Discrimination Bill in the New Year, and emphasised that we would continue to encourage the Government to consult with the Opposition on their proposals.
The willingness of the ALP to involve faith groups such as Christian schools is welcome, and the frankness and openness of the discussion appreciated.