Further Details Announced on Religious Freedom Review

On 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull MP, announced the appointment of an ‘Expert Panel’ chaired by the Hon Philip Ruddock to examine whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion as outlined in our briefing here.

The Prime Minister announced the Terms of Reference for the Review yesterday, 14 December 2017. In undertaking its Review, the Prime Minister has instructed the Panel to:

  • consider the intersections between the enjoyment of the freedom of religion and other human rights
  • have regard to any previous or ongoing reviews or inquiries that it considers relevant
  • consult as widely as it considers necessary

The Objective of the Review, as set out in the Terms of Reference, is to ‘examine and report on whether Australian law (Commonwealth, State and Territory) adequately protects the human right to freedom of religion.‘  Obviously this give the Panel a very broad scope.

In announcing the Terms of Reference the Prime Minister also added a further member to the Expert Panel, which now comprises:

  • the Hon Philip Ruddock (chair)
  • Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM
  • the Hon Dr Annabelle Bennett AO SC
  • Father Frank Brennan SJ AO
  • Professor Nicholas Aroney

Professor Aroney is Professor of Constitutional Law at The University of Queensland.  The Expert Panel is being supported by a Secretariat within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet and expects to hold its first formal meeting in early 2018.

As previously indicated the Panel will report its findings to the Prime Minister by 31 March 2018.  In order to meet this deadline the Panel is accepting initial submissions on the matters raised in its Terms of Reference until 31 January 2018. EDIT:  Deadline extended to 14 February 2018.

CSA will be preparing a comprehensive submission on behalf of member schools to the Panel.