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Firing staff based on faith is discrimination according to Labor

Staff can be hired by religious schools to share their faith and values but hold full rights not to be discriminated against once employed, Labor says.

Mar 25, 2024, updated Mar 25, 2024
Tony Burke said the government's long-held position was religious schools should be able to have full choice to employ people who share their faith. Photo: AP

Tony Burke said the government's long-held position was religious schools should be able to have full choice to employ people who share their faith. Photo: AP

Religious schools should be allowed to hire workers who reflect their faith but not sack employees based on their gender identity or sexual orientation, the workplace relations minister says.

The government has given draft religious discrimination legislation to the opposition but is hiding it from the public to stop a divisive culture war.

In a review, the Australian Law Reform Commission recommended scrapping laws that allow religious schools to discriminate against staff based on their faith.

Tony Burke said the government’s long-held position was religious schools should be able to have full choice to employ people who share their faith.

“Once you have employed somebody, then all the normal rights against discrimination should be held by that worker,” he said on Monday.

“It goes to the firing issue. That would be an example of discrimination if it was done for a reason for one of those protected categories.

“Parents are sending their children to religious schools for that purpose and it’s completely reasonable in the government’s view that you are able to employ on that basis.”

The workplace relations minister said it wasn’t uncommon for negotiations being discussed in “good faith” to be kept away from the media spotlight.

“That’s a reasonable a reasonable thing to do,” he said.

“If there’s a way of dealing with this constructively with the opposition, then that’s a better option for the whole of Australia.”

Burke said the nation should be a place where people aren’t targeted for their religious faith or a lack of one.

Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has said the government would only proceed if Labor can secure bipartisan support.

– AAP

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