The Legislative Council of Tasmania will today debate amendments to possibly the most restrictive anti-discrimination laws in the country.
The laws in question concern the rights of religious schools to selectively admit students based on their religious belief.
This is important for religious schools. Being compelled to admit students who do not share their faith weakens the character of the school, and diminishes their ability to immerse their students in a religious education expected from parents.
Under the current Anti-Discrimination Act 1998, sections 55A and 55B require faith-based schools to request permission from the state Andi-Discrimination Commissioner to give preference in enrolments to students who share the faith of the school. Most schools are unable to meet the requirements, and those that could are discouraged by the regulatory burden.
Last month, education minister Jeremy Rockliff introduced the Anti-Discrimination Amendment Bill 2015, which replaces the burdensome sections 55A and 55B with 51A, a general exemption for religious school. This will bring the law more in line with all other Australian jurisdictions.