The Religious Freedom Bill is Morrison’s re-election strategy
The Morrison government could use the religious freedom bill as a political weapon against Labor in the next election, writes Andrew P Street.
WAR OF CULTURES! Eh! What’s the point? Another mandate in power, potentially.
At first glance, Scott Morrison’s re-election strategy is based on two things: first, the message that the Coalition is the people to trust with the economy, and second, to wait until the absolute last minute to be dragged against their will into the economy. the urns. in the desperate hope that everyone will literally forget everything that has happened in the past three years.
And these are smart tactics in the absence of anything like a good track record of their time in power.
After all, Morrison has always pushed back on any decision about anything – a federal ICAC, sex crimes investigations in Parliament under his leadership, climate action – in the hopes that it will go away or whatever. someone else’s problem. So, why stop now?
And current indications are that the plan is to revive the successful 1994 campaign “the coalition is good with your money and Labor is just going to spend it badly”, mixed with the dash of “hey, the coal industry, only we really understand you ‘flavor.
The problem with these campaigns is that they’ll be easy to tear down in 2022. The biggest budget deficit of all time might rightly be brushed aside in the face of a global pandemic, but it’s harder to say the government was doing this. that had to be done when it already was … profitable companies were those that went off like JobKeeper bandits, while Labor is already pointing out that the government’s plans to transition from coal to green hydrogen are exactly the ones Morrison called ridiculous when Labor pushed them the last time.
So at first glance, this is a weak campaign on which to base hopes of a comeback. But there is another way for a coalition government to get re-elected: to start a culture war.
And there is a powerful legislative weapon that sits in Parliament, waiting to be unleashed for this purpose. it’s called Religious Freedom Bill and its whole purpose is to pull the blow that starts a Republican-style battle for the political soul of the nation – especially by forcing Labor to betray the likely victims of the law (trans people, women who want to control their own fertility, the LGBTIQ + community) or be painted as ungodly pagans who hate believers.
We don’t know because details have been released; the government has been very, very suspicious of this, with Attorney General Michaelia Cash refusing to provide an explanation for the issues it seeks to address let alone the proposed law itself. Plus, does anyone else unwittingly shudder at the phrase “Attorney-General Michaelia Cash”?
A program since deleted by Vision Christian Radio with Australian Christian Lobby chief executive Martyn Iles suggested that the ACL approve the bill, which in itself is an indication that it is likely to be fulfilled laws with which to beat gays.
This reportedly includes a “Folau clause” that would make it more difficult to sanction someone for expressing a religious belief, no matter how odious or offensive, while still giving employers the right to expect employees to adhere to it. conduct in accordance with their religious precepts, that anti-discrimination laws be damned.
Not only is there an opacity about the horrendous injustice that the bill would seek to redress, aside from hurting feelings of not being able to prevent marriage equality, but there is also no clarity on the issue. way of solving the problems that the law would seem to create.
If you are a teacher in a private school, does the law mean that you better not take the same-sex partner out in public lest a grudging homophobic parent or principal decide that you are offending their beliefs? personal? If you are an elderly social worker in the 40 percent run by charities, could you be fired after being exposed by a coworker who found out you had terminated a pregnancy because you could not afford a other child? What if a bank sponsors a Pride event and one of the cashiers decides to let all of their customers know that sodomites will burn in hell?
The Morrison government has no plans to address these issues because they are not issues to be resolved: they are glorious opportunities to present their political opponents as anti-religious the second they raise such issues.
Finally, Morrison’s much-discussed religiosity becomes an asset rather than a handicap, as any suggestion that he uses him for basic political reasons is easy to turn into an attack on his faith. Of course, Labor leader Anthony Albanese is a longtime and vocal Catholic, but it won’t matter if he’s portrayed as fighting against the right of Australians to live the truth of God, or something like that. .
So the plan will be to create a bill so flawed that it defies passage through parliament, and then portray any opposition as being awakened by denigration of secular religion. Labor will be forced to spend time and oxygen defending their position as Morrison oozes hurt pride on behalf of faithless Australians deprived of their freedoms. What specific freedoms? We do not care?
Now it should be added that a number of Liberal MPs have reportedly expressed great unease with the bill in its current form, especially those who have campaigned for same-sex marriage like MP Warren Entsch, Senator Dean Smith and MP Tim Wilson, so there may not be the numbers to get it through the House of Representatives. But that is arguably not the aim of the law – it is about starting a fight, not about changing the law.
It’s cynical, it’s dirty and it divides. And that might just be enough.
Andrew P Street is an Adelaide-based Sydney-based journalist, author, publisher and broadcaster, as well as an Independent Australia columnist. You can follow Andrew on Twitter @AndrewPStreet.
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