Religious freedom review begins

Posted in News

An independent panel will begin its review of religious freedom in Australia on 10 January 2018.

Former Liberal immigration minister Philip Ruddock will chair the panel in its examination of whether Australian law adequately protects the human right to religious freedom. He will be joined by Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher, who was recently appointed the President of the Human Rights Commission, retired Federal Court judge Annabelle Bennett, Constitutional Law Professor Nicholas Aroney, and Father Frank Brennan, a Jesuit priest and human rights lawyer.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the appointment of this panel to review religious freedoms on 22 November 2017, and its terms of reference on 14 December 2017. He has instructed the panel to:

  • consider the intersections between the enjoyment of the freedom of religion and other human rights
  • have regard to any previous or ongoing reviews or inquiries that it considers relevant
  • consult as widely as it considers necessary

The review was announced after the results of the Australian marriage law postal survey had been confirmed and before changes to legislation on marriage were made. While discussions about marriage were the impetus behind the review, the Prime Minister has asked the panel to conduct a broader review of religious freedom.

In a media release issued on 22 November 2017, the Prime Minister’s office said the review would be a “timely expert stocktake to inform consideration of any necessary legislative reforms.”

The panel will report its findings to the Prime Minister by 31 March 2018.

Members of the public are welcome to make a submission to the panel until 31 January 2018. The terms of reference are available online here, and submissions may be made here.


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