State-funded education should mean children have a reasonable opportunity of choosing where they go to school, rather than their religion belief being the determinant, says CLA’s Richard Griggs.

CLA joins call for freedom of choice

Tasmania’s Legislative Council is being asked to reject a new law to allow religious schools greater powers to exclude children of different faiths.

The lower house of the Tasmanian Parliament has already approved the changes to the Anti-discrimation Act which would allow schools to consider a child’s religion when making enrolment decisions.

“Religious freedom is a fundamental civil liberty but it does not extend to excluding children from enrolling at publicly-funded schools because of their religion,” said Richard Griggs, Tasmanian Director of Civil Liberties Australia.

“Instead of increasing religious freedom, as the government intends, the laws will actually do the opposite and see students turned away from schools because of their religion,” Mr Griggs said.

Photo: Terry Polglase, Tasmanian President – Australian Education Union; parent Deirdre Murray and daughter Ella; Richard Griggs, Tasmanian Director of Civil Liberties Australia;
Photo: Terry Polglase, Tasmanian President – Australian Education Union; parent Deirdre Murray and daughter Ella; Richard Griggs, Tasmanian Director of Civil Liberties Australia;

A parent with a child in the system, Deirdre Murray,said: “Our Tasmanian Government should be confronting prejudice in education, not promoting it. In the interest of fairness all students deserve equal consideration when choosing a school.”

“The argument that Tasmania needs to fall into line with other states is a cop-out,” said Terry Polglase, Tasmanian President of the Australian Education Union. “Our state should lead on this issue, stand firm, and send a clear message to the nation that Tasmanians believe in choice of school for families.

“Giving publicly funded religious and independent schools more power to choose who they enrol will not lead to improved educational outcomes for our state’s children.The amendment needs to be rejected by the Upper House and Tasmania should lead on this issue,” he said.

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One Comment

  1. How you call yourselves a civil liberties organisation, I’ll never know.
    You have not even addressed the treatment of one of our most fundamental freedoms -and one that is the most relevant in this particular case- that of freedom of association.
    By denying religious schools the ability to select for those students who hold the same beliefs as they do, you are violating their freedom to associate with those people whom they choose, and instead forcing them to associate with people that they otherwise wouldn’t, by threat of heavy financial penalty.
    This will not reduce religious freedom as claimed, because religious freedom in the western tradition has only been understood as a limit on state power. As mandated in our constitution, the government cannot ban a religion, but nowhere does it say that a catholic baker has to serve a protestant customer.
    The call to “fairness” (as defined by a select few) I feel is being increasingly used as an excuse to erode traditional freedoms, such as freedom of association.
    I had expected that an organisation with a name like yours to realise that “fairness” is not a right. And to be at the forefront of protecting such traditional freedoms as that of association.

    Kyle Crane

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