Bill Hoffman argues there is no wriggle room when it comes to discrimination. He says prejudice can't be allowed to masquerade as freedom of religion.
Bill Hoffman argues there is no wriggle room when it comes to discrimination. He says prejudice can't be allowed to masquerade as freedom of religion.

There should be no freedom to discriminate

OPINION: A SIMPLE rule that all politicians should be able to grasp.

If you discriminate against someone that act is discrimination.

If the intent is to end discrimination, you can't then decide to selectively discriminate against a particular group or allow a particular group the right to selectively discriminate.

And that is doubly so when taxpayers' money is involved.

Australians have just made abundantly clear, what shouldn't have required a plebiscite to establish, that we won't tolerate discrimination based on sexual orientation.

It is therefore clearly discriminatory to deny employment or refuse a service based on a person's sexual orientation be they teacher or baker.

There is no grey in this. You can't call the right to discriminate, religious freedom.

It's just discrimination.

There is no wriggle on this and certainly none if you want to practice discrimination with money provided by our tax pool.

I've strained all week to hear our Christian churches in the lead up to the celebration of the birth of their Christ speak out on this subject which lies at the core of his message.

The corruption of his teachings to create environments of discrimination is not religious freedom, it's prejudice. That holds true of all faiths.

As humans we all have our individual failings. As a nation we need to collectively rise above them.

There should be no place in our nation's laws for the enshrining of those failings, making it imperative our politicians stand firm against any dilution of laws created to stamp out discrimination.

CORRUPTION

The benefits of hung parliaments with strong cross benches are becoming increasingly apparent.

The Morrison Coalition Government in clearing the decks and backtracking on previously firm directions faster than we've seen TC Owen change course this week.

Peregian Beach-based corruption fighter Tony Fitzgerald has been at the leading edge of calls for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission.

His Fitzgerald Principles introduced in 2016 were followed by the Australia Institute in 2017 publishing an open letter signed by 41 lawyers, former judges and corruption fighters calling for establishment of a federal anti-corruption watchdog.

By December last year polling showed 88 per cent support for a national version of the NSW Independent Commission Against Corruption.

The Financial Services Royal Commission has laid bare the ineffectiveness of existing regulators leaving the Coalition which had opposed establishment of the watchdog, little room to move.

The ineffectiveness and secrecy with which the Australian Securities and Investments Commission operates so ineffectively gives power to the argument, that the government must heed, for the need for public hearings and full transparency.

Equally for a Commonwealth Integrity Commission to work it needs to be well resourced with enshrined funding beyond the reach of any particular political agenda.

Anyone who thinks corruption is not rife in this country needs to open their eyes to the reality.

TIME FOR LEADERS

The New Year will see a federal election where a change of government is now a real possibility.

That there will be so few sitting days of parliament before it is expected to be called by the Prime Minister for May is a disgrace and indicative of how little hold it has on power and how reluctant it is to reach sensible compromise.

There is a reason for that. When you use extreme language that embraces the prejudices at the fringes of our society you become bound by those words.

That is even more so when you lack the strength to stand up to the internal forces that have led that embrace.

Australia is better than it's been for much of the past decade.

If we are to create genuine opportunity for its future we need a government willing to seriously address the challenges of climate change and its realities.

We can longer afford time for the sort of short-term thinking that elevates a fast buck over sensible policy in the face of those realities.

Leadership that explains the challenges honestly and can articulate a clear path forward would I am sure see Australians accept that we all will need to make sacrifices in the short term.

Where that leadership would come from remains unclear but it won't be from some of the haters and baiters that continue to have a place in our national discourse.

MERRY CHRISTMAS

On that note, that's it from me for the year. Thanks again to everyone who has taken the trouble to read and think about what has been written in these columns.

We don't have to agree and I know that there are among you those that never do. Thanks for taking the time to at least read what I've written.

To all of you all the best for the season.



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