This week, there have been numerous misrepresentations of proposals by the Ruddock Review in relation to laws regarding discrimination against children attending religious schools.
Contrary to what has been reported, the Ruddock Review proposes to strengthen the protections for students from discrimination. The Ruddock Review actually proposes restrictions to the laws introduced by the previous Labor Government, which gave religious schools greater ability to expel students where the school considered that was necessary according to the doctrines of the religion in question.
This misreporting has created unnecessary confusion and anxiety for parents and students alike.
To address this issue I will be taking action to ensure amendments are introduced as soon as practicable to make it clear that no student of a non-state school should be expelled on the basis of their sexuality. I believe this view is shared across the Parliament and we should use the next fortnight to ensure this matter is addressed.
To this end, I have asked the Attorney General to prepare amendments and consult with the Opposition. I will be writing to the Opposition Leader Bill Shorten to invite him to work with the Government on a bipartisan basis to provide certainty in this area.
Our Government does not support expulsion of students from religious non-state schools on the basis of their sexuality. I also know that this view is widely shared by religious schools and communities across the country.
Amending the legislation will give all students and parents the certainty they require.
In relation to the Ruddock Review more broadly, the Government will work through our response through the normal Cabinet process and engage with the Opposition and the Parliament on those issues, once our consideration has been completed.
Any changes in this area should always take into account the best interests of children. Given recent misreporting, we have an opportunity here to bring forward a simple amendment to end the confusion.