News Politics Australian Politics Federal Election 2022 Rebel Liberal MP vows to hold the line against religious discrimination bill

Rebel Liberal MP vows to hold the line against religious discrimination bill

Katie Allen, facing the prospect of losing Higgins, with MP Tim Wilson, also in trouble in the seat of Goldstein. Photo: AAP
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One of five Liberal MPs who crossed the floor on sexual discrimination amendments preventing LGBT students being expelled from religious schools says her position remains unchanged.

As Scott Morrison said there was no evidence LGBT students were being expelled on the basis of their sexuality, Victorian Liberal MP Katie Allen indicated she would always protect gay and transgender students.

Dr Allen was one of the MPs to cross the floor earlier this year during debate in parliament related to religious discrimination laws, a major policy the government took to the last election but failed to implement.

When stopped by reporters at a Liberal Party rally in Melbourne ahead of the election, Dr Allen said her stance was the same on the issue.

With less than two weeks to the election, debate has resurfaced on the religious discrimination laws, which the Prime Minister said were a priority for the next term.

However he did not commit to an exact timeline as to when amendments to the Sex Discrimination Act would be addressed, saying only that it would be sequential.

The Prime Minister said he had not seen reports of LGBT students being expelled.

‘It doesn’t happen’

“We’ve been having this conversation for about the last four years, and on each occasion, it has been presented that apparently students are being expelled … there is no evidence of that at all, there’s none,” he told reporters in Melbourne on Sunday.

“The point is it doesn’t happen … religious schools themselves don’t wish to do that.”

However, he said, religious people were being discriminated against every day.

Dr Allen said she also had not heard reports of LGBT students being expelled from faith-based schools on the grounds of their sexuality.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese said he was astounded Mr Morrison would abandon a promise to protect LGBT students from discrimination.

“The Prime Minister wrote to me when the debate was on in the national parliament and said that he would take action to protect gay and lesbian students,” he told reporters in Sydney.

“I’m astonished that he has walked away from that.”

The Prime Minister said he had been disappointed “politics were played” with the bill, despite his own MPs crossing the floor on the issue.

Frontbencher Sussan Ley refused to comment on how the government would handle the bill.

Liberal plans under wraps

“I’m not focused on what happens after the election,” she said.

“Right now, we’re not painting a picture of what we might do in government after the election.”

Mr Morrison denied the Coalition was hiding its agenda from voters ahead of the May 21 poll.

“Over the course of this election, we’ve been setting our policies each and every day,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said the government’s stance on the religious discrimination laws remained the same, despite it not being legislated in the last parliamentary term.

Mr Morrison spent Sunday morning at a campaign rally in Melbourne alongside other Victorian MPs including Treasurer Josh Frydenberg.

The Treasurer is under threat of losing his blue-ribbon seat of Kooyong to independent Monique Ryan.

Mr Morrison also used the rally to spruik Coalition candidates, with many in marginal seats such as Chisholm and Higgins facing the threat of losing.

Mr Morrison will fly to Sydney ahead of the second leaders’ debate on Sunday night with Labor leader Anthony Albanese.