On Saturday, the Prime Minister explained that after receiving “hundreds” of submissions on the proposed religious discrimination bill, the government decided “earlier this week” to issue another version of the bill to “reflect the government’s response to the consultation to date and provide further opportunity for engagement”.
Privately, government MPs and religious groups have been expecting a delay to the bill, given the degree of criticism and the number of diverse views on the matter. One MP noted on Saturday, there was no need to “rush into it”.
The government’s decision to delay the bill comes after an intervention from a group of powerful religious leaders earlier this week.
In a letter sent to Mr Morrison, a draft of which was seen by The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, a coalition of religious groups says: “We take the view that it would be better to have no Religious Discrimination Act rather than a flawed one.”
The groups, which include the Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney, the Anglican Diocese of Sydney, the Executive Council of Australian Jewry, the Australian National Imams Council and the Greek Orthodox Church in Australia, say the bill in its current form will “diminish the religious freedom of faith groups in Australia”.