3 January 2018

MEDIA RELEASE BY TERRY O’GORMAN PRESIDENT, AUSTRALIAN COUNCIL FOR CIVIL LIBERTIES

 

Today’s announcement that public submissions to the Turnbull Government’s review of religious freedoms in Australia will be kept secret has been attacked by the Australian Council for Civil Liberties.

Australian Civil Liberties Council President Terry O’Gorman said that a fundamentally important aspect of all law reform which has been followed fastidiously by the Australian Law Reform Commission for decades is that all law reform submissions should be made public with limited exceptions for submissions containing private information.

“The Religious Freedoms Enquiry is extremely important and has long term ramifications for freedom and civil liberties in Australia”, Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman said that the Prime Minister Department’s position that submissions to the Expert Panel will not be published online but where individuals provide consent submission extracts may be included in public materials, is a totally unacceptable situation.

“The same sex marriage debate saw claims, some of them extreme, from opponents of same sex marriage that the successful plebiscite would seriously hamper religious freedoms in Australia”, Mr O’Gorman said.

Mr O’Gorman said that he will this week be writing to the Secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department and to the Prime Minister urging that all submissions to the Religious Freedoms Enquiry be automatically published by the Expert Panel with the usual exception that if a particular submission contains obviously personal matters which unacceptably infringe on the privacy of a particular person, that part of the submission can be redacted.

Mr O’Gorman said that the Religious Freedoms Enquiry is the first major enquiry into religious freedom as a standalone issue in Australian politics for a decade, and the Enquiry’s recommendations will have ramifications for freedom of religion and civil liberties generally for decades to come.

“It is for this reason that not only should the submissions be quickly and automatically made public, but the deliberations of the Expert Panel itself should be conducted in public at least in part by way of public hearings”, Mr O’Gorman said.

 

Mr O’Gorman can be contacted during business hours on 07 3034 0000

or after hours on 0418 787182