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Thursday, 4 December 1986
Page: 3429


Senator WALTERS(10.02) —I should like to speak briefly on Senator Harradine's amendments, particularly that relating to conscientious belief. We have had a problem in this area, which I am sure the Minister for Resources and Energy (Senator Evans) will acknowledge. We have in this country complete freedom of religion, as again the Minister will acknowledge. I do not think for a moment he would say that we should inhibit any expression of religion. I refer to a doctor who, because of strong Christian beliefs, would not rent accommodation to people living in a de facto relationship. Should our legislation override his religious beliefs, then we cannot claim that we have freedom of religion in this country. It does not matter what the individual politician in this place may think or feel about that person's beliefs, there is no doubt that we must support Senator Harradine's amendment. Senator Powell spoke about the proposed amendment that I intend to bring forward. I thought I should leave that to a later time, as it is not appropriate to deal with that amendment in a second reading stage speech. I hope that the Minister will give me leave to deal with that amendment later.