The Australian Christian Lobby has welcomed the Victorian Upper House’s decision to reject the Andrews Government Equal Opportunity (Religious Exceptions) Bill which attacked freedom of religion and association.
ACL Victorian director Dan Flynn said it was clear many parliamentarians believed the Andrews Government had overreached by attacking the right of religious schools and associations to recruit staff that share their vision and values.
“Hundreds of Victorians contacted their MPs to protest the Government’s intention to throw the Christian school sector into Government Tribunals, having to defend Christian staff appointments,” Mr Flynn said.
“The ‘inherent requirement’ test would have been difficult for a Christian school employer to meet.
“If an employer could not satisfy a Tribunal that a teacher needed to be a Christian to perform the role, the school may be forced to hire a staff member who disagreed with the school’s creed, or be required to pay compensation.
“The bill missed the point. A Christian school should be able to require that all its staff are advocates for its mission and model the faith of the school to the students.
“Sadly, the bill appeared to be driven by an ideological agenda against faith-based communities,” Mr Flynn said.
“It was hypocritical for the Government to demand employment restrictions on religious organisations and faith-based schools while exempting political parties,” he said.
“It was clear that within the Victorian community there was no appetite to unfairly restrict Christian schools and or churches. Luke O’Sullivan MLC spoke of getting hundreds of emails opposed to the bill and not one in favour “
Mr Flynn said the Labor Government had failed to show why religious organisations needed to be targeted.
“The Government failed to justify why it was necessary to restrict the capacity of religious organisations and schools to employ staff,” Mr Flynn said.
“There has been no evidence presented by the Government that any person has ever been unfairly discriminated against by the current rights of faith communities to select staff that uphold the faith and ethos of their community.”