View Liberal National Coalition Responses

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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?

Liberal National Coalition
Liberal National Coalition
  • A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will remove the “inherent requirements” test from the Equal Opportunity Act.

The Liberal-Nationals Coalition believes Labor’s changes to the Equal Opportunity Act undermine the freedom of parents across Victoria to provide their children with an education that reflects their values and beliefs.

The government’s double standard in this move is highlighted by the fact that the legislation expressly leaves government Ministers free to continue to discriminate in selecting staff for their own offices based on political beliefs, without any “inherent requirement” test.

A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will restore the rights of freedom of religion and freedom of association in relation to faith-based schools and other organisations by removing the “inherent requirements” test which Labor has imposed.

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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?

Liberal National Coalition
Liberal National Coalition
  • A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will remove the sweeping coercive powers of investigation that Labor has given to the equal opportunity commission.

Under Labor’s legislation, the VEOHRC can launch an investigation into virtually any business or community organisation in the state; it can compel the organisation, its staff and volunteers to hand over documents and give evidence, and can then hit the organisation with a compliance notice without even having to prove any discrimination has occurred.

The legislation gives the VEOHRC more powers to lay hands on documents and interrogate the staff or volunteers of a business, school or social club than our police force has to investigate the worst of criminals.

The potential for abuse of this power is enormous. The commission is already being used as a political tool by the Attorney-General, who axed its independent chair and concentrated all power in a single commissioner. Many of who come may before these investigations and inquiries will therefore have little confidence in receiving a fair hearing.

A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will remove these sweeping powers from the VEOHRC.

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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?

Liberal National Coalition
Liberal National Coalition
  • A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will work with all interested parties to ensure racial and religious tolerance legislation operates as originally intended.

The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act was enacted with the aim of curbing racially or religiously motivated vilification, threats or attacks.  It sought to reinforce the long-standing Australian values of openness, friendliness and a fair go for all. However, the legislation as it currently stands has at times operated in ways contrary to what Parliament intended when the legislation was enacted.

A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will work with all interested communities and parties to ensure the law operates as it was originally intended and avoids the unintended and counter-productive consequences that have occurred.

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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?

Liberal National Coalition
Liberal National Coalition
  • A Liberal-Nationals Coalition government will work with faith-based organisations in a way which respects each organisation’s role and mission.

The Liberal-Nationals Coalition strongly values the role played by Christian charities and churches in the provision of education, welfare and health.  Shadow Ministers have had extensive engagement with Christian organisations relevant to their respective portfolios, both with service providing organisations and with representative associations.

The Coalition has also appreciated the constructive, well-informed and engaged approach followed by ACL in representing the views of its members on key legislation and issues before the Parliament.

The Coalition intends to continue to work in similar way with Christian and other faith based organisations in the next Parliament. If we are elected to government, we will work with organisations involved education, welfare, health and other areas to improve the services available to the community, and we will do so in a way that respects the perspective from which each organisation approaches its role and mission.

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