National LGBTQI advocacy group, Just. Equal Australia, and former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Dr. Robin Banks, have jointly called on Western Australia’s Attorney General, John Quigley, to discontinue what they term as ‘misinformation’ regarding anti-discrimination laws in the state.
State Attorney General, John Quigley, has been justifying the delay in enacting legislation to protect LGBTQI teachers and students in faith-based schools from discrimination.
Quigley claimed the state is waiting for the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) inquiry into this matter and the federal government’s response before proceeding with local legislation.
Just.Equal Australia’s spokesperson in Western Australia, Brian Greig strongly contested this rationale, describing it as “utter nonsense.”
Greig emphasised that both the states and the Commonwealth possess equal legislative powers in this domain, and there are no impediments preventing the Western Australian government from enacting its own laws to eliminate discrimination without waiting for the federal government’s directives.
Greig accused the Attorney General of fabricating “convenient excuses” for political inaction and urged the Cook Government to take decisive action.
He also pointed out that the Queensland Government has committed to revising its anti-discrimination laws concerning teachers by the end of this year, without waiting for the federal government’s guidance.
Former Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Dr. Robin Banks, pointed out that Tasmania, Victoria, the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), and the Northern Territory have all passed laws to safeguard LGBTQI teachers and students. At the same time, Queensland has instituted protections for students.
“In the case of Tasmania, which boasts the nation’s most robust laws in this regard, these measures were put in place years before the Albanese federal government’s attempts to address the issue following the Morrison Government’s failed Religious Discrimination Bill in 2022,” Dr Banks said.
‘States Have Authority To Enact Anti-Discrimination Laws’
Banks stressed that any response from the federal government in 2024, concerning the ALRC recommendations due later this year, would have no bearing on existing or proposed state-based laws.
Banks pointed out that federal legislation to protect teachers and students is not expected for at least a year, if at all, and would only provide limited federal protections for LGBTQI teachers and/or students in those states that have not enacted their own laws. This would apply only in New South Wales, South Australia, and Western Australia.
Furthermore, Banks emphasised that states can introduce or already have preexisting anti-discrimination laws for teachers and students that are more robust and comprehensive than the federal government’s proposed measures.
“More importantly, states can introduce or already have existing anti-discrimination laws for teachers and students that are stronger and more comprehensive than Mr Albanese has flagged federally. There is nothing to stop the WA Government from passing its own laws now,” Banks added.