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Public Christianity

1. Equal Opportunity – inherent requirements test

Of the inherent requirements test in the Equal Opportunity Act 2010, chief executive of the Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission Helen Szoke said, "Religious schools or religious charities ... will have to show how belonging to a particular religion is relevant to the job they are trying to fill". Will your Party support the removal of the inherent requirements test from the EO Act, which creates uncertainty for faith-based schools and service-providers?

Australian Greens
Australian Greens
  • The Greens oppose discrimination.
  • It is important that anyone who is qualified for a job, be able to be assessed equally to all others applying for a job.
  • We would not seek to remove the inherent requirements test from the EO Act.

The Greens are surprised that some Christians (definitely not all Christians) oppose this requirement. A critical part of the Christian message is to love all, and treat all equally.

To support discrimination against others when the criteria for that discrimination is not inherently necessary for the goals of the organisation, seems anti-Christian.

If it can be shown that the gardener or office worker interacts in such a way as to transfer the inherent values of the religious organisation to the people there, then argue it. But if some roles have no connection to the goals of the organisation, it is simply unjust to discriminate against applicants for those roles. If a non-Christian is happy to work in a Christian environment and not undermine the philosophy of the group employing them, isn’t that a good thing for a Christian organisation to be demonstrating to the people they deal with?

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2. Equal Opportunity – VHREOC own-motion powers

The Equal Opportunity Act 2010 grants the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission unprecedented and wide-ranging powers to initiate an investigation into any matter relating to the operation of the Act without receiving a prior complaint. Does your Party support the removal of this extraordinary prerogative from the VHREOC?

Australian Greens
Australian Greens

The Greens support VHREOC’s new power to initiate an investigation. This provision was lacking from the previous Act and has long been called for. Some people who suffer discrimination are unwilling to lodge a formal complaint for fear of further discrimination. It is intended that this provision be used primarily to look at systemic discrimination.  It is an import tool in the quest to rid the community of discrimination.

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3. Religious vilification

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act 2001 had as its stated objective the promotion of racial and religious tolerance. However the Acts' civil provisions remain contentious, as evidenced by the notorious 'two Dannies case'. Will you commit to a review of the RRTA to re-examine the need for the civil provisions which encourage individuals to take legal action against people of other faiths?

Australian Greens
Australian Greens
  • The concerns expressed here have already been dealt with in the amendments that were passed after the initial action against the “two Dannies”.
  • The Greens have stood on public platforms explaining that they do not agree with laws that interfere with freedom of speech: we have specifically said that we do not agree with the Victorian Racial and Religious Vilification laws.
  • The Greens believe that freedom of speech means you have to put up with hearing things that you might not agree with, or like.

It surprises some Christians that the Victorian Greens are opposed to the racial and religious vilification laws. Freedom of speech demands that such laws should not exist.

At the same time, it must be said that the Greens abhor racism and the spreading of fear and hatred of others in a community. Such activity should be fought and opposed. Education, advertising campaigns and maintaining the anti-discrimination laws, should all be used to fight racism and the deliberate spreading of misinformation to create hatred and fear.

We note that since the 2005 amendments there have not been any cases as extreme as the “Catch the Fire” case.

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4. Role for the Church

Christian charities and churches play an important public role in Victoria in the provision of services in the areas of education, welfare and health. What has your Party done to foster good relationships with religious communities, and how does it plan to work with them during the life of the next parliament?

Australian Greens
Australian Greens
  • The Greens seek to represent all members of the Australian community
  • Any group (churches and other religious groups included) will have access to Greens parliamentarians
  • A number of active Christians are a part of the Greens Party, and we continue to attract a growing number of Christian voters, as they see the importance of our stand on issues ranging from treatment of refugees, care for the poor and care for the environment.

The Greens appreciate the social work and important contribution that churches and other non-government groups make to Australian society. Our overseas aid policy, for example, sees the value of non-government agencies (including Christian agencies) in that vital area, and we would continue to support and work with such groups. 

Greens MLC Colleen Hartland has worked closely with different religious organisations throughout her term in parliament – particularly charity and social justice groups – for her family and community services and multicultural portfolios.

The Greens are not “anti-religious” or “anti-Christian”. We do clash with intolerant people of any stripe. But we sincerely believe in “live and let live”.

Even though we get attacked by intolerant others, we try not to respond with intolerance – as in the great saying: “do unto others as you would have them do unto you”.  Of course we would work with churches and church charity groups. And we will work with non-Christian groups too.

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