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Tuesday, 28 November 2017
Page: 9092


Senator CANAVAN (QueenslandMinister for Resources and Northern Australia) (19:29): I think this exposes the rank hypocrisy of those on the 'yes' side of this debate. I remember quite clearly, during the campaign, advertising from the 'yes' side of this debate that said—and I might be paraphrasing—something to the effect that a soldier in the military puts their own life on the line but can't marry the loved one of their life. But now those on the 'yes' side are not going to support an amendment that would allow Australians who are putting their lives on the line for this country to refuse to act against the faith that guides their life. They are fundamental principles that they adhere to. When these Australians are overseas, at risk of losing their own life, they deserve the minimum of respect that would allow them to not be put in the position of acting against their fundamental religious or conscientious views.

But we can tell that the other side are taking a winner-takes-all approach here. They are not interested in listening to the five million Australians who voted no. Indeed, they're not listening to the tens of thousands of Australians in the armed forces, who do things that probably very few of us here would ever have to contemplate: putting our own life on the line to defend our nation. They want to put those Australians in that position while they themselves safely go to bed every night without having to worry about their loved ones or their lives. They want to live under the protection and safety of our armed forces, but they don't want to respect those same Australians' fundamental religious or conscientious views. It is hypocrisy in the extreme, because they come in here and present themselves as being against discrimination, against prejudice, welcoming of all different views.

We've already seen on other amendments that they don't do that, but this is so stark—that the people in our defence forces can't have their fundamental religious or conscientious views respected. I can't believe we're in the nation's parliament traducing those fundamental rights in the way we're about to by opposing these very reasonable, narrow and limited protections to those Australians who are willing to put their lives on the line to protect the safety of our country and stand up for the fundamental rights that should exist in this country, including the right to religious freedom.