“Do you see any problem with that situation?”: Leigh Sales grills Scott Morrison
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has weighed in on the controversy surrounding rugby player Israel Folau and his fight against Rugby Australia.
He spoke about his thoughts on the matter on ABC’s 7:30 program last night.
Morrison spoke about the religious freedom bill that was being put forward by the Liberal Party this year and host Leigh Sales asked about his thoughts on the matter.
Morrison tried his best to dodge the question, but Sales was persistent on the topic.
“If a public figure said, for example, that Jews are going to hell, they would be rightly and roundly condemned for that,” Sales said.
“But if a public figure says gays are going to hell, it can be defended as religious freedom. Do you see any problem with that situation?”
But Mr Morrison said he would not let the debate around anti-discrimination legislation be “derailed” by “extremes of examples” like Sales had put forward.
“Well, again, I mean, the issue is making sure you get the balance right in the legislation, which respects the same principle of anti-discrimination as applies to many other cases,” Morrison replied.
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He continued: “We already have anti-discrimination legislation which deals with these sensitivities in other areas, and that will apply also to religious faith.
“And what I would hope is that we can have a sensible and adult debate about this one – not one that is drawn to extremes of examples or things like that to try and derail debates, but one that actually keeps people together and honours the key principle.
“I mean, religious freedom is a core pillar of our society. And it’s not unreasonable. And I think there are many millions of Australians who would like to see that protected, and I intend to follow through on that commitment.”
Sales then asked the Prime Minister directly about the Folau case.
“Under the changes you introduce, would you like to see somebody like Israel Folau be able to make the remark he made and be safe from being sacked?” Sales asked.
Morrison was brief with his reply.
“I think it’s important, ultimately, that employers have reasonable expectations of their employees, and that they don’t impinge on their areas of private practice and private belief or private activity,” Mr Morrison said.
“And there’s a balance that has to be struck in that, and our courts will always ultimately decide this based on the legislation that’s presented.”
He then explained why bringing in a religious discrimination act would be a good thing.
“We’re looking at a religious Discrimination Act which I think will provide more protections for people because of their religious faith and belief in the same way that people of whatever gender they have or sexuality or what nationality or ethnic background or the colour of their skin — they shouldn’t be discriminated against also,” he said.