Greens Member for Newtown, Jenny Leong MP has called on the NSW Government to disregard the report produced by the disastrous inquiry into One Nations Religious Freedoms bill.
Ms JENNY LEONG (Newtown) (12:46): As a member of the joint select committee tasked to consider One Nation's so-called religious freedoms and equality bill, I express my extreme concerns. The manner in which the inquiry process, hearings and deliberative were conducted was an absolute disgrace. This report and the recommendations are so flawed that I do not believe this House should note it at all. That is why I will be calling a division to that effect. From the beginning, the hypocrisy of One Nation—a party that is overtly Islamophobic and transphobic—proposing to protect people from discrimination and advance equality was laughable. To then have the committee made up in large majority of members of the Parliamentary Friends of Religious Freedoms made clear the lack of genuine inquiry that would be taking place.
Throughout the inquiry members showed a complete disregard for committee processes, voting together as a bloc to exclude witnesses who opposed their views, and removing references to evidence they did not agree with from the final report. The debacle of the final deliberative is captured in the minutes. Witnesses who did not agree with the group were treated appallingly in hearings. One law expert was called "disgraceful" for raising concerns about the bill, and a senior medical professional was called a "bigot" for warning of the risks to fair access to medical treatment by women seeking to access terminations. Many witnesses reported to me that they felt bullied and harassed by participating in the process. It was appalling to see One Nation, the member for Wagga Wagga and members of the Liberal, National and Labor parties attempting to rewrite history by altering the evidence and removing analysis drafted carefully by secretariat staff.
The process issues were real, but it is not just that, as the House heard from the member for Sydney. At some point, this Parliament needs to push back on the homophobia spouted by members in this place and the other place. We need to push back on sexism and bigotry, and that starts now. We need to stop caving in to the bullying tactics and parliamentary abuse that occurs under the guise of membership of Parliament and so‑called freedom of speech when it comes to attacking and harming vulnerable people in our community. There was broad recognition across witnesses that there is a need to protect people from discrimination on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The Greens support it and the whole committee supported it, but the One Nation bill does not do it; it creates more risk of discrimination than it addresses. It is shameful that members of the Liberal and Labor parties joined with the Independent member for Wagga Wagga to back the One Nation bill. It is crucial that our Anti‑Discrimination Act does not give one protected attribute supremacy over another. I urge this Parliament and the Attorney General to disregard the report and recommend that the Government undertake a broad review of the Anti-Discrimination Act, including inserting religious beliefs as a protected attribute, as well as overhauling other aspects to provide adequate protection to the rest of the community.