For release: Thursday, January 10, 2013

The Australian Christian Lobby (ACL) today concurred with concerns raised by the media companies over the draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill put forward by Attorney General Nicola Roxon, concerns also reflected in its submission.

Managing Director of the ACL, Mr Jim Wallace, said that “while the move to consolidate, clarify, and simplify five different commonwealth laws is welcome, the draft Bill goes well beyond consolidation and would increase the reach of current laws, further impinging on freedom of religion and freedom of speech.”

“The joint submission by the media companies has rightly pointed out the increasing reach of this Bill to include conduct that offends or insults,” said Mr Wallace. “In addition to this, unlawful discrimination is defined subjectively as ‘unfavourable treatment’, with the onus of proof on the one who has supposedly offended or insulted while there is no definition of what constitutes “ harassment”, something the draft looks to target.”

“The exposure draft creates too many vulnerabilities for people of faith and faith-based institutions and will need radical redrafting,” said Mr Wallace.