Episode 170 – The Ruddock Report in a Nutshell

Finally, a good week for secularism.

It’s fair to say that the playing out of the Ruddock Inquiry saga is irony at it’s best.

Ironic – happening in a way contrary to what is expected, and typically causing wry amusement because of this.

So, in summary, the marriage equality law caused the religious right to feel persecuted which caused the Prime Minister to placate them with the Ruddock Inquiry which was stacked with religionists causing it to produce recommendations which the Prime Minister didn’t like which caused the report to be shelved which then upset people who wanted it exposed which caused it to be leaked which didn’t worry the new Prime Minister too much because he liked the recommendations but the leak caused the public to be aware and angry at previously unknown discrimination laws which caused a risk of a by-election loss which caused the Prime Minister to bow to public opinion and announce a new law which, of course … has caused the religionists to feel persecuted.

Ultimately, the religious nutters don’t get anything they don’t already have but the publicity surrounding the report and the timing of it means that people are finally looking at this issue and saying “WTF – I had no idea – We need to change these laws!” As a result, Scott Morrison caved and agreed to remove a privilege that the religious schools previously enjoyed and that the panel recommended. An inquiry designed to expand religious privilege has caused a contraction. Oh, the irony.

What Did He Say?

Since we last podcasted …

5:28 The Ruddock Report was leaked and Morrison was asked: “So you’re comfortable with a school expelling a student because they are gay or lesbian?” The Prime Minister replied: “It is existing law.”

So I wrote a letter to The Editor of The Australian which of course, did not get published. Here it is – Gay bashing used to be done in the dark behind the toilet block. Now it is done openly in press conferences by our Prime Minister.


When the public hears Morrison there is an uproar. Then when he feels the backlash he flips. This guy has no backbone. He is that bully full of bluster who will run when punched on the nose. Like all Christians, he picks and chooses the pieces of Christian morality that suit him at the time.

An Ipsos poll confirmed the backlash.

The New Law to be passed in the next fortnight

10:50 So now he is willing to change the law to stop discrimination of students but not teachers.

Mr Morrison’s half-pregnant bill says discrimination against LGBTQI people is unacceptable for children but fine for adults.

Morrison has previously said that he believes in “a fair go for those who have a go”. Except if you are a gay teacher wanting to have a go at teaching.

A Quick Refresher on Hierarchy of Rights and Discrimination

11:54 We need to recall a previous discussion (in episode 110 on the 22nd of August 2017) about identity and discrimination.

Some of our characteristics such as skin colour, gender and sexual preference are innate. Others such as political or religious belief are acquired or maintained by our choices and rely on values and ideological content.

Innate characteristics are beyond a person’s control[i]. They cannot be criticised for being good or bad and therefore always deserve protection from discrimination. It would, for example, be absurd to praise or blame Martin Luther King Jr for being black, or Margaret Thatcher for being a woman. There is no ideological content to their identity to assess or debate. We cannot praise or blame since there are no relevant assessable beliefs, values, practices or institutions to judge.[ii]

With ideological or value-laden identities the situation is different. The most obvious of these identities are political, which are constituted by doctrines, beliefs and values that have implications for our social and ethical practices and institutions. Clearly, we can criticise Margaret Thatcher for her neo-liberal political beliefs. The crucial question for tolerance, is: where does religion stand in relation to this divide? Religious identities are, I contend, heavily ideological and value-laden and, in this respect, more akin to political identities than to those based on race, gender or sexual orientation. What really matters is not so much that the person’s particular religious identity is chosen but that it has some relevant ideological content and is, to that extent, open to criticism, reflection, discussion and debate.[iii]

[i] http://www.atheistrepublic.com/blog/blake-ross/equality-religion-when-my-rights-conflict-your-rights

[ii] https://aeon.co/essays/why-religious-identities-are-not-immune-to-robust-criticism

[iii] https://aeon.co/essays/why-religious-identities-are-not-immune-to-robust-criticism

What Was The Old Law?

16:32 The thing is, existing Commonwealth and State laws are bad enough already.

Are LGBTIQ students currently protected from expulsion? What is the current law? Here is a very detailed explanation by Alistair Lawrie of the current law.

In summary (thanks to Alistair Lawrie)

In terms of students, such discrimination is permitted in religious schools under the anti-discrimination laws of:

  • Commonwealth
  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia (probably)
  • South Australia (probably), and
  • Australian Capital Territory.

Only Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory have chosen to protect students in religious schools from homophobic, biphobic and transphobic discrimination.

As we have seen, the situation for teachers and other staff members is even worse – they can be legally mistreated under anti-discrimination legislation in:

  • Commonwealth
  • New South Wales
  • Victoria
  • Western Australia
  • South Australia (although procedural requirements apply)
  • Australian Capital Territory, and
  • Northern Territory.

In Queensland, LGBT teachers at religious schools can be discriminated against if they are ‘out’ – otherwise a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy applies. Only Tasmania refuses to provide religious schools with an explicit ‘right to discriminate’ against LGBT teachers and other staff.

The Ruddock Report

Here is what we know so far, thanks to the SMH.

Recommendations 5,6,7 and 8 deal with religious schools. Basically, they must not discriminate against staff or students based on race, pregnancy or disability but they can discriminate against Gays if it is for religious reasons. To downplay sexual preference as unworthy compared to race? WTF? The panel should hang their heads in shame. David Marr said the panel was unanimous.

Recommendation 15 relates to non-schools and recommends that the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act should be beefed up to include religion as a protected class but also allow religions special exemptions to discriminate.

Recommendation 5

The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 to provide that religious schools can discriminate in relation to the employment of staff, and the engagement of contractors, on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:

  • The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
  • The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter and explaining how the policy will be enforced.
  • The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to employees and contractors and prospective employees and contractors.

Recommendation 6

Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools in employment on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status. Further, jurisdictions should ensure that any exceptions for religious schools do not permit discrimination against an existing employee solely on the basis that the employee has entered into a marriage.

Recommendation 7

The Commonwealth should amend the Sex Discrimination Act to provide that religious schools may discriminate in relation to students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity or relationship status provided that:

  • The discrimination is founded in the precepts of the religion.
  • The school has a publicly available policy outlining its position in relation to the matter.
  • The school provides a copy of the policy in writing to prospective students and their parents at the time of enrolment and to existing students and their parents at any time the policy is updated.
  • The school has regard to the best interests of the child as the primary consideration in its conduct. (IFVG Note: As for student discrimination, an important question is whether the best interests of a child could ever be said to be advanced by a policy that would exclude them from an educational institution on the basis of their sexual orientation or gender identity.)

Recommendation 8

Jurisdictions should abolish any exceptions to anti-discrimination laws that provide for discrimination by religious schools with respect to students on the basis of race, disability, pregnancy or intersex status.

Recommendation 15

The Commonwealth should amend the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, or enact a Religious Discrimination Act, to render it unlawful to discriminate on the basis of a person’s ‘religious belief or activity’, including on the basis that a person does not hold any religious belief. In doing so, consideration should be given to providing for appropriate exceptions and exemptions, including for religious bodies, religious schools and charities.

What About Queensland, Tasmania and the Northern Territory?

16:49 I thought the introduction of Federal exemptions would increase exemptions in states like Qld but the report says “to the extent that some jurisdictions do not currently allow religious schools to discriminate against students on the basis of sexual orientation, gender identity and gender characteristics, the panel sees no need to introduce such provisions.” WTF these guys are nuts. Either a principle is important or it is not!

What Was Not Recommended?

18:40 The report shies away from recommending Masterpiece Bakery style freedoms but recommends being mean to gay people! Extraordinary. No wonder the Government has been sitting on this report for 5 months. It offers very little for conservative Christians but the one thing it does recommend is not going to fly with the Australian people who just voted in marriage equality. It didn’t take long before Freedom for Faith was sending emails requesting a fighting fund of $190,000 to help them pursue this lofty ideal. Meanwhile, Ruddock says the Report recommends limiting discrimination.

What do religious groups have to say in response?

22:03 They claim to be misrepresented about discriminating against gay students (more so than teachers)

22:10 Lyle Shelton says schools should not have the right to expel students simply for being gay – but should be able to do so if a student acts on that impulse by having sex.

23:02 The Anglicans say Secular rules shouldn’t apply to church schools and claim they don’t want the ability to expel students. The Anglican Archbishop of Sydney said “Let’s be very clear. Anglican schools in Sydney do not expel students for being gay. It is an absurd proposition and it is certainly not something we asked for in our submission to the Ruddock Review,”. But in 2013 when Alex Greenwich proposed to abolish the NSW law which allows religious groups to expel gay students, Laurie Scandrett, chief executive of the Sydney Anglican Schools Corporation, said:Most private schools have a religious ethos, they stand for something, and if these exemptions were removed that would break down the ability of these schools to maintain whatever their particular ethos is.” The Jews, to their credit on this occasion, did not want the ability to discriminate against gay kids.

But in the past …

25:05 A Baptist Mandurah private school, which receives millions of dollars every year in taxpayer funding, has told the father of a seven-year-old girl she would not have been welcome had it known her parents were gay.

25:29 Gay Parents accused a Catholic primary school (Sacred Heart Primary) of an enrollment snub.

Teachers Have Suffered Discrimination

25:44 These exemptions for religious institutions were in evidence last year when relief teacher Craig Campbell was let go by South Coast Baptist College in Western Australia after revealing he was in a same-sex relationship. Campbell had no means of redress.

26:20 In Qld, we saw this law used to legally sack a teacher at a Baptist school for becoming pregnant while unmarried

School Chaplains

27:15 Recommendation 15 will cause a problem for the rule that school chaplains must have the backing of a religious organisation. The central recommendation of the now-leaked sections of the Ruddock report is the introduction of a federal prohibition on religious discrimination. Currently, federal laws prohibit discrimination on the basis of race, age, sex and other attributes, but not religion. Though most states protect religious belief, this federal protection would add appropriate coverage across Australia and fill any existing gaps.

Timing and Luck

The delay in releasing the report and it’s leaking just before an important by-election in an electorate sympathetic to gay rights (81% voted yes for marriage equality) not long after a same-sex plebiscite shows how luck and timing can have a big influence.

The Labor Party Are Cowards

28:38 The Labor Party is no better. Plibersek told reporters in Sydney the “vast majority” of schools don’t use their exemptions to discrimination law to sack gay teachers or expel gay students but confirmed it is “not Labor’s plan to reduce any of the existing exemptions”, as she said in January. Labor had ruled out expanding discrimination law exemptions but now that the winds of public opinion have changed so has the Labor Party attitude.

The Fact We Fund These Schools Adds Insult To Injury

Andrew Bolt said that’s OK provided the schools do not receive any taxpayer funds. According to Bolt: “Is this really what the Liberals should make a top order of business: reducing the cause of religious freedom to being mean to gay students? Not with my taxes, they don’t. The schools — Christian and Muslim — who want to reject openly gay students as an abomination can do as they please since no parents are forced to send them their children. But their funding from state and governments should be cut. Taxpayers should be equally free of any obligation to fund a hostility to gays. ” Some secular groups seem to agree. The Fist calls BS on that idea and refers to the Trinity College case in Canada.

In the UK they put conditions on funding.

The Media

Our media outlets demonstrated their bias.

From The Australian – I couldn’t find anything in Monday’s paper but Catholic News says this “Nothing weird about protecting religious freedom” was in The Australian.

From The Guardian, we got this piece from David Marr “The right to expel gay children from school isn’t about freedom; it’s about cruelty”

From The Courier Mail ,we got …. nothing.

Freedom for Faith is not happy saying: “Sydney Morning Herald publishes 9 letters on religious freedom. All of them dismissive of religious freedom concerns or asking for the removal of freedoms. Reinforcing stereotypes. Minimising nuance. This doesn’t bode well for media or for freedom.”

They put out a press release which needed editing for accuracy and clarity.

Final Thoughts

We should get Ruddock to run an inquiry on tax-free status for religious groups and hope he recommends an increase.

The problem with the Christian Right – they are not Christian and not right.

Early reactions indicate that the door is opening to a wider debate about employment discrimination.

I should probably issue a press release on behalf of The Satan Worshippers of Australia.


Is It OK to be White?

32:18 From The Blot Report – Today, in the Senate, the vacant, idiotic Pauline Hanson of One Nation put forward a motion in two parts. It was, to ask the Senate to acknowledge:

  • The deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation
  • That it is OK to be white

From Crikey – The Greens leader opened his mouth yesterday and said the worst thing he could. He revived my long aversion to the speech of all politicians and to voting Green. I vote for no party that risks enflaming real-life racial hatred for some brief online reward. He took the risk and then said this, “It’s not just okay to be white in Australia, it’s actually a ticket to winning the lotto”. No. This is false.  That this wealth is largely held by a very few, very white people is the truth. But any speech that seeks to divide us in hate is a lie. Perhaps this lie will be celebrated as truth by enough idiots on Twitter, and the Greens can get to sleep.

Later on Tuesday afternoon, the government used its numbers to order a second vote and joined the opposition in voting the motion down. Finance minister Mathias Cormann said the original failure was with the government’s internal process for letting senators know how they should vote on the bills of the day. Later, attorney-general Christian Porter said the advice was sent out from his office “without my knowledge”. A staff member had sent it out without checking, he said. “It appears that, of the very large number of motions on which my office’s views are routinely sought, this one was not escalated to me because it was interpreted in my office as a motion opposing racism. Naturally, I’m reviewing the processes in my office to prevent such an administrative error in the future,” he said.

What is it with bakeries?

The Belfast Bakery is different to the Masterpiece case.

19:04 The UK Supreme Court issued its ruling in Lee v. Ashers on October 10, a case from Northern Ireland that has attracted widespread attention. In May 2014, Gareth Lee, a gay rights activist, involved with QueerSpace, an organisation for the LGBT community in Northern Ireland, ordered a cake from Ashers bakery in Belfast. He asked for the cake to be decorated with the message “Support Gay Marriage”, to mark the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia. Amy and Daniel McArthur, who ran the bakery, refused – citing their religious opposition as evangelical Christians to gay marriage.


Everest Advertising on The Sydney Opera House

41:28  I’ve got a great idea. let’s put an ad for a horse race on the Sydney Opera House and let’s do it during Responsible Gambling Awareness Week.

The decision has attracted strident opposition from some quarters of the community who say it cheapens the globally recognised building. “This is one of the biggest events of the year. Why not put it on the biggest billboard Sydney has?” Mr Morrison said. “I come from a tourism background, these events generate massive opportunities for the state, for the city.”

Mungo Macallum – They say that if the only tool you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. And perhaps if the only life experience you have is in PR, everything looks like a billboard.

Morrison was also in charge of the Lara Bingle “Where the Hell Are You?” campaign.

46:55 Waleed Aly actually wrote very well on this topic.

All these symbols are vaguely sacred because they are in some respect civic. They are special because when they bring us together, they bind us as citizens rather than consumers. This is what makes them public spaces in the fullest sense. They immediately connect us to those who surround us either physically, or by some social or national mythology. And so they are places we visit and experience for their own sake, on their own terms, and to be with our society rather than ourselves… That’s what lies beneath the anxiety that became so visceral this week. As public spaces become smaller and rarer, and as our sense of even having a public slowly erodes, we should expect people to be stirred passionately when one of the few remaining threads of our public fabric is threatened. At least, that’s what will happen until the idea we are members of a public has disappeared completely. This week shows that it survives, perhaps only as a flicker, but still with the fuel reserves to burst aflame.

From the SMH – There you have it, the implication that the exploitation of public monuments by private commerce is somehow in the public interest, and an enhancement of public debate. The clear implication is that any attack on those private interests by what Jones continued to cast as “this latte-sipping mob” is an attack on the public. Wow. That’s bold. It was the exact same Elision that had popped up in The Daiy Telegraph’s front page when Peter V’landys first attacked Opera House management as elitist for wanting to apply its own policy. “The Opera House belongs to the taxpayers of NSW and not just to a minority of elites,” he said. He declared last month that “red tape” was undermining not just Racing NSW but Sydney itself. Scott Morrison echoed similar sentiments, describing the Opera House as “the biggest billboard Sydney has” and opponents of its commercialisation as “precious”.

47:42 Brendan O’Neil in The Australian – “Why didn’t these protesters kick up a storm when Samsung took over the sails of the Opera House to launch its Galaxy S4 smartphone in 2013? Its website boasted about “using (the Opera House) as a canvas”. It projected all sorts of colourful images on to the building.”

What is wrong with America?

49:08 Trump mocks Dr Christine Blasey Ford.

It shows without question that we have allowed our republic to fall into the hands of a sociopath whose feeling for his fellow human beings can be measured against a poker chip. It shows beyond a shadow of a doubt that the better angels of our nation have been sold out to anger, and greed, and stone hatred. It shows precisely the depths to which our fellow citizens will follow this bag of old and rancid sins. Some of those citizens know better. Some of them don’t. All of them are dangerous blockheads.

There is hope for us. While Americans cheer Trump for abusing Dr Blasey Ford, Australians tell our politicians to fuck off for daring to put signage on the Opera House.

MLK -said interrelated evils in American society are racism (slave past), materialism (dispossessive land hunger) and emperialism (overseas colonisation). Better add sexism to the list.

We should pull out of Anzus. If we are attacked, we can’t trust them to help us and if they are attacked, they are not worth saving. The second last straw was the sight of Donald Trump mocking of Dr Christine Blasey Ford. The last straw was watching the lynch mob behind him as they cheered him on.

12th Man, it’s not about educating the public. You don’t need to educate people that mocking a victim is wrong. It is about power. It is about dominionism.

The Senate system in the USA and Australia is undemocratic. It is not one vote, one value.

In the USA it is 2 Senators per State regardless of population.

The Senate is one of the two houses of the Australian Federal Parliament. It consists of 76 senators, twelve from each of the six states and two from each of the mainland territories. Tasmania has 515,000 while NSW has 7,544,000. A Tasmanian votes 14.6 times compared to someone from NSW. What did they give us? Check out the IFVG Secular Index and search for Tas

Can it happen here? It already has if you listen to the Cory Bernardi podcast or The Young Liberals (the comments are heartening) or The Australian

This is why a Bill of Rights is dangerous, and why we pay no attention to our High Court but the current case regarding abortion clinic protest zones may test us.

America, how will it end. Check out Red states and Blue states.

When Nikki Haley resigned this week as the United States’ ambassador to the United Nations, seemingly the political press’ first question was whether Donald Trump would name his daughter Ivanka as her replacement. Trump did little to discourage this speculation. “[It’s] nothing to do with nepotism,” he told reporters at the White House, barely concealing a smile. “But I want to tell you that the people that know, know that Ivanka would be dynamite.”

Donald Trump isn’t rich because he’s a great investor. He’s rich because his dad was rich.


Corporate Tax Cuts

1:09:41 Scott Morrison in banging on about tax cuts for coffee shops and Landon Hardbottom would agree.

The government laid out a $10 billion plan to accelerate tax cuts to 25 per cent for companies earning up to $50 million, which were not scheduled to come in until 2026.

The proposed acceleration of corporate tax cuts will benefit the wealthy because of dividend imputation and it pisses The Fist off that no-one mentions it.

Let’s assume a successful Mum and Dad company with gross revenue of $1,000,000 and a net profit of $300,000. They pay themselves $200,000 in weekly wages and find they have $100,000 left over. What do most do and what would happen?

From the 2017–18 income year, companies that are base rate entities must apply the lower 27.5% company tax rate.

Resident tax rates 2018–19
Taxable income Tax on this income
0 – $18,200 Nil
$18,201 – $37,000 19c for each $1 over $18,200
$37,001 – $90,000 $3,572 plus 32.5c for each $1 over $37,000
$90,001 – $180,000 $20,797 plus 37c for each $1 over $90,000
$180,001 and over $54,097 plus 45c for each $1 over $180,000

From two years ago – Only about 40,000 of the 870,000 small businesses getting a tax cut under the Coalition’s “jobs and growth” plan are likely to use the bonus to expand their operations, according to the Council of Small Business of Australia (Cosboa).

Our tax rate couldn’t be more “average” if we tried

Move our Embassy to Jerusalem and Reconsidering the Iran Nuclear Deal! Really? Have we come to this?

1:17:27 With a by-election in a seat with a large Jewish population, Morrison does some dog whistling – He channels his inner Trump by firstly raising the prospect of moving our embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and then says “We do share real concerns about how Iran’s capability can be a very destabilising force in the Middle East, particularly for allies like Israel, so I’m acknowledging that concern and saying the position we’ve held up until now continues to be our position until if we decided to alter it – but I’m flagging we’ll be taking a close look at that.”

Miscellaneous and Obscure

1:22:00 Scratch emotional support squirrels.

There have been stories about passengers flying with cats and dogs and miniature horses. The list also includes a peacock, a hamster, a duck wearing a nappy and a defecating pig. A passenger was removed from a Frontier Airlines flight late on Tuesday when she attempted to fly with her “emotional support” squirrel, then refused to get off the plane when she was told no, according to the airline. A Frontier spokesman said in a statement that the passenger had alerted the airline that she would be bringing an emotional-support animal on the flight. But she did not mention it would be so bright-eyed and bushy-tailed.

1:23:23 The Nobel Peace Prize. According to the will of award namesake Alfred Nobel, the winner “shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses” in the preceding year. Kim Jong Un was a contender.

Our Community

1:24:18 Joe Galt – Excellent local opinions – Great Aussie banter discussing interesting current events and issues

Daniel from the Mountains gave us a 5-star review. Prepare to be challenged. In a society where politics is polarised to such a degree where the latte-lovers on the left can’t come together to speak to the troglodytes on the right, it’s refreshing to listen to a podcast that seeks to challenge the radical ideas perpetuated by both extremes of the political divide. So really, don’t listen to this podcast if you don’t want to be challenged on your political ideology, or can’t mount an argument in defence of your own ideas. It’s an easy listen, with no real wading through the weeds of heavy political and social theory. It’s an entertaining, fun, and challenging listen and has become a must-listen in a very short time.

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