The Senate has decided it will not make a decision on the passing of the religious discrimination bill today, and it is likely it will not be passed before the next election.
However, the Federal Government’s controversial religious discrimination legislation has passed through the Lower House after a marathon session of Parliament.
MPs stayed all night to debate the bill’s progress, with five government backbenchers ultimately crossing the floor.
The central issue was over the bill not protecting transgender children from being expelled from religious schools.
The backbenchers crossing the floor meant that amendment passed 65 to 57.
This led to the government voting against its own bill, but it lost and the legislation will now be sent to the Senate.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said the debate was “very constructive” – for the most part.
I support ensuring that people can’t be discriminated against because of their religion or because of their faith,” he told Today.
“But I don’t support discriminating against other people as part of this legislation.”
Mr Albanese said Labor believed further amendments to the bill were needed, after it passed with the additional protections for transgender students.
“There are other issues about discrimination against older people receiving home care, the bill covers aged care residents but it doesn’t cover home care,” he said.
He said Labor would pursue further amendments in the Senate.
But Tasmanian Senator Jacqui Lambie signalled the government’s religious discrimination bill could face further hurdles in the Upper House.
“I will not be voting for it,” she told Today.
“We have a gold-plated legislation that we have in Tasmania.
“It works very, very well and I remind the Liberal and Labor parties that your people down there, your state people voted to put that in.”
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet has also criticised the bill.
“I’ve said from the outset when I was previously the Treasurer, when this bill was introduced, that I don’t believe it’s necessary to have this legislation,” he said.
“We haven’t needed it for over 100 years and I think in many ways it might create more problems than it’s trying to solve.”
But he said it was ultimately a matter for the federal government.
The legislation does already include protections against expulsion for gay school students.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison secured majority Coalition support for it earlier in the week, though several MPs voiced their opposition.