The majority voted in favour of disagreeing with anamendment introduced by Melbourne MP Adam Bandt (Greens), which means it failed.

What does this amendment do?

MP Bandt explained that:

These amendments remove the statement of belief provision ...

That needs to be done for two important reasons. The statement of belief provision, firstly, is the most novel provision of this bill and, secondly, is the most pernicious. It's the most novel in that this bill is supposedly about protecting people from victimisation on the basis of religion. Now, the principle of including religion as a prohibited attribute, as it were, on the basis of which you can't discriminate or victimise is something that I think most people in this parliament would agree with. It would probably have universal agreement in this parliament. But this bill does something that other discrimination legislation doesn't do: it inserts a new provision, a statement of belief provision, that is not found in other pieces of discrimination legislation. It is novel, it is unnecessary and it's gravely concerning. And this goes to the point about it the most—or a—pernicious aspect of this bill. Not only will it allow things to be done that will override state legislation—and we've heard about that and about how it would take away protections that are enshrined in legislation in, for example, Tasmania.

What it also does, this statement of belief provision, is open up new grounds for discrimination to occur. We've heard example after example, from members from both sides, of statements that could be made that now might offend other provisions, other discrimination provisions, but will become lawful. These are the statements that will cause a lot of harm. These are the statements that are made when someone working in a healthcare area says to someone else, 'I think that your condition, your illness that your suffering, is a punishment from God because you're gay.' Or statements that are directed at a transgender student or staff member that might not be about expelling them, but might be something that is designed to make, or has the effect of making, their life a misery. These are the statements that would currently not be protected, but are going to open up a whole new suite of discriminatory and harmful behaviour.

Amendment text

(1) Clause 3, page 3 (line 2), omit “beliefs; and”, substitute “beliefs.”.

(2) Clause 3, page 3 (lines 3 to 6), omit paragraph (1)(d).

(3) Clause 4, page 3 (lines 24 to 26), omit “circumstances. Certain statements of belief also do not constitute discrimination for the purposes of specified legislation, including this Act”, substitute “circumstances”.

(4) Clause 5, page 5 (line 3), omit “, 14 and 15”, substitute “and 14”.

(5) Clause 5, page 5 (line 4), omit “1”.

(6) Clause 5, page 5 (lines 7 and 8), omit note 2.

(7) Clause 5, page 7 (line 21) to page 8 (line 2), omit the definition of statement of belief.

(8) Clause 12, page 16 (line 21) to page 17 (line 21), omit the clause.

(9) Clause 15, page 19 (line 8) to page 20 (line 5), omit the clause.

(10) Clause 16, page 20 (line 8), omit “section 15 and”.

(11) Clause 18, page 22 (lines 17 to 19), omit subclause (4).

(12) Clause 68, page 56 (line 5), omit the note.

What does the bill do?

According to the bill homepage, the bill was introduced with the Religious Discrimination (Consequential Amendments) Bill 2021 and Human Rights Legislation Amendment Bill 2021 in order to:

  • prohibit discrimination on the basis of a person’s religious belief or activity in a range of areas of public life, including in relation to employment, education, access to premises and the provision of goods, services and accommodation;
  • establish general and specific exceptions from the prohibition of religious discrimination;
  • provide that certain statements of belief do not constitute discrimination for the purposes of certain specified Commonwealth, state or territory anti-discrimination laws;
  • create offences in relation to victimisation and discriminatory advertisements;
  • establish the office of the Religious Discrimination Commissioner;
  • confer certain functions on the Australian Human Rights Commission; and
  • provide for miscellaneous matters including delegation of powers or functions, protection from civil actions and a review of the operation of the Act.

SBS News has provided a good summary of the more controversial parts of the bill, including an explanation for each rebellion that occurred during the long debate. According to this summary, the key areas for concern were:

  • the parts of the bill that allowed religious schools to discriminate on the basis of sexuality and gender identity;
  • the "statement of belief" that seems to protect people expressing religious beliefs even if they're offensive and therefore seem to override existing anti-discrimination protections; and
  • the fact that the bill does not outlaw vilification of people of faith.

Votes Passed by a large majority

Nobody rebelled against their party.

Party Votes
Adam Bandt Melbourne Australian Greens No
Australian Labor Party (38% turnout) 26 Yes 0 No
Anthony Albanese Grayndler Yes
Chris Bowen McMahon Yes
Linda Burney Barton Yes
Josh Burns Macnamara Yes
Anthony Byrne Holt Yes
Lisa Chesters Bendigo Yes
Libby Coker Corangamite Yes
Julie Collins Franklin Yes
Mark Dreyfus Isaacs Yes
Steve Georganas Adelaide Yes
Andrew Giles Scullin Yes
Patrick Gorman Perth Yes
Chris Hayes Fowler Yes
Stephen Jones Whitlam Yes
Catherine King Ballarat Yes
Andrew Leigh Fenner Yes
Richard Marles Corio Yes
Emma McBride Dobell Yes
Fiona Phillips Gilmore Yes
Amanda Rishworth Kingston Yes
David Smith Bean Yes
Anne Stanley Werriwa Yes
Susan Templeman Macquarie Yes
Matt Thistlethwaite Kingsford Smith Yes
Tim Watts Gellibrand Yes
Tony Zappia Makin Yes
Anne Aly Cowan Absent
Sharon Bird Cunningham Absent
Tony Burke Watson Absent
Mark Butler Hindmarsh Absent
Terri Butler Griffith Absent
Jim Chalmers Rankin Absent
Nick Champion Spence Absent
Jason Clare Blaxland Absent
Sharon Claydon Newcastle Absent
Pat Conroy Shortland Absent
Milton Dick Oxley Absent
Justine Elliot Richmond Absent
Joel Fitzgibbon Hunter Absent
Mike Freelander Macarthur Absent
Luke Gosling Solomon Absent
Julian Hill Bruce Absent
Ed Husic Chifley Absent
Ged Kearney Cooper Absent
Matt Keogh Burt Absent
Peter Khalil Wills Absent
Madeleine King Brand Absent
Kristy McBain Eden-Monaro Absent
Brian Mitchell Lyons Absent
Rob Mitchell McEwen Absent
Daniel Mulino Fraser Absent
Peta Murphy Dunkley Absent
Shayne Neumann Blair Absent
Brendan O'Connor Gorton Absent
Clare O'Neil Hotham Absent
Julie Owens Parramatta Absent
Alicia Payne Canberra Absent
Graham Perrett Moreton Absent
Tanya Plibersek Sydney Absent
Michelle Rowland Greenway Absent
Joanne Ryan Lalor Absent
Bill Shorten Maribyrnong Absent
Warren Snowdon Lingiari Absent
Meryl Swanson Paterson Absent
Kate Thwaites Jagajaga Absent
Maria Vamvakinou Calwell Absent
Anika Wells Lilley Absent
Josh Wilson Fremantle Absent
Rebekha Sharkie Mayo Centre Alliance No
Mark Coulton Parkes Deputy Speaker Yes
Craig Kelly Hughes Independent Yes
Helen Haines Indi Independent No
Zali Steggall Warringah Independent No
Andrew Wilkie Clark Independent No
Bob Katter Kennedy Katter's Australian Party Yes
Liberal National Party (80% turnout) 4 Yes 0 No
Angie Bell Moncrieff Yes
Garth Hamilton Groom Yes
Julian Simmonds Ryan Yes
Phillip Thompson Herbert Yes
Terry Young Longman Absent
Liberal Party (83% turnout) 45 Yes 0 No
John Alexander Bennelong Yes
Katie Allen Higgins Yes
Karen Andrews McPherson Yes
Kevin Andrews Menzies Yes
Bridget Archer Bass Yes
Russell Broadbent Monash Yes
Scott Buchholz Wright Yes
David Coleman Banks Yes
Peter Dutton Dickson Yes
Warren Entsch Leichhardt Yes
Trevor Evans Brisbane Yes
Jason Falinski Mackellar Yes
Paul Fletcher Bradfield Yes
Nicolle Flint Boothby Yes
Josh Frydenberg Kooyong Yes
Ian Goodenough Moore Yes
Alex Hawke Mitchell Yes
Luke Howarth Petrie Yes
Greg Hunt Flinders Yes
Steve Irons Swan Yes
Andrew Laming Bowman Yes
Sussan Ley Farrer Yes
Nola Marino Forrest Yes
Fiona Martin Reid Yes
Melissa McIntosh Lindsay Yes
Scott Morrison Cook Yes
Ben Morton Tangney Yes
Ted O'Brien Fairfax Yes
Tony Pasin Barker Yes
Gavin Pearce Braddon Yes
Christian Porter Pearce Yes
Rowan Ramsey Grey Yes
Dave Sharma Wentworth Yes
Tony Smith Casey Yes
James Stevens Sturt Yes
Michael Sukkar Deakin Yes
Angus Taylor Hume Yes
Bert Van Manen Forde Yes
Ross Vasta Bonner Yes
Lucy Wicks Robertson Yes
Rick Wilson O'Connor Yes
Tim Wilson Goldstein Yes
Jason Wood La Trobe Yes
Ken Wyatt Hasluck Yes
Trent Zimmerman North Sydney Yes
Vince Connelly Stirling Absent
Celia Hammond Curtin Absent
Andrew Hastie Canning Absent
Julian Leeser Berowra Absent
Gladys Liu Chisholm Absent
Melissa Price Durack Absent
Stuart Robert Fadden Absent
Dan Tehan Wannon Absent
Alan Tudge Aston Absent
National Party (80% turnout) 12 Yes 0 No
Darren Chester Gippsland Yes
Pat Conaghan Cowper Yes
Damian Drum Nicholls Yes
David Gillespie Lyne Yes
Kevin Hogan Page Yes
Barnaby Joyce New England Yes
Michelle Landry Capricornia Yes
David Littleproud Maranoa Yes
Michael McCormack Riverina Yes
Llew O'Brien Wide Bay Yes
Ken O'Dowd Flynn Yes
Keith Pitt Hinkler Yes
George Christensen Dawson Absent
Andrew Gee Calare Absent
Anne Webster Mallee Absent
Andrew Wallace Fisher Speaker Absent
Craig Kelly Hughes United Australia Party Absent
Totals (63% turnout) 90 Yes – 5 No