On Monday December 3, the Australian government delayed a vote to protect LGBTQ students from discrimination in schools. The senate had agreed to vote on the Sex Discrimination Amendment (Removing Discrimination Against Students) Bill 2018 to coincide with the first anniversary of the Australian parliament passing marriage equality, however the government worked with the Centre Alliance to stall the vote until 2019.
“We saw an outrageous display from the Morrison government teaming up with Centre Alliance to push the discrimination-free schools bill off the agenda today,” said Greens LGBTIQ+ spokesperson Janet Rice in a statement.
“This means the parliament won’t deal with discrimination in schools until next year."
“Before the Wentworth by-election the Prime Minister promised he would remove discrimination from schools as a matter of urgency. This is yet another lie from the Prime Minister.”
“The dirty tricks displayed today demonstrate a desperate Scott Morrison’s willingness to play games with the lives of LGBTQ+ people."
“Schools should be discrimination-free for all LGBTQ+ people – that means students, teachers and staff,” she said.
“The Greens were ready to act today to remove discrimination against teachers as well as students, as is supported by three quarters of the Australian population. It is so disappointing that political games and dirty tricks have delayed this long overdue reform.”
Despite Morrison’s October promise to remove discrimination in schools, Senator Mattias Cormann delayed Monday's vote, saying the government needs to refine the legislation changes with the help of a parliamentary committee.
"We support it with reasonable amendments to ensure that for example religious schools can provide appropriate rules for the proper conduct of their schools," Cormann said.
“It’s outrageous that our Government is stalling on this important vote. Parents and children deserve certainty for the new year,” said Anna Brown, Co-Chair of the Equality Campaign and director of legal advocacy at the Human Rights Law Centre.
“No kid should be feeling scared to walk through the school gates just because of who they are. Today's delay is a slap in the face to LGBTQ kids and their families."
"Today, the Australian Parliament had the opportunity to do the right thing. Instead they chose not to protect Australian kids. By voting to block the bill, they have voted to continue discrimination against LGBTQ students,” she said.
On Monday afternoon, Labor senator Penny Wong introduced a motion to Parliament which attempts to force a vote on the bill by Wednesday afternoon. In the first sitting fortnight of next year, Labor also plans to introduce a bill which prevents religious schools from discriminating against gay staff members.
Whilst protecting vulnerable LGBTQ children might not be high on Morrison’s agenda, defending himself from a leadership spill certainly is.
At around 8pm Monday evening, Morrison called an unscheduled party room meeting to change the numbers needed to oust a Liberal party leader. A motion was passed which makes it necessary for two-thirds of the party room to support a leadership change instead of the current 50%.
If the rule change had been implemented earlier this year, Malcolm Turnbull would still be prime minister.
Morrison called a press conference after the meeting, telling reporters that he was “putting the power back into the hands of the Australian people.”
“Australians have the very reasonable expectation that when they elect a government and a prime minister then they should be the ones to decide if that prime minister should continue in that office,” Morrison said.
'When we go to the next election, and I lead the party, you elect the Liberal party and I will be the prime minister. I will remain as prime minister, and I will continue to serve as prime minister,' he said.
Yikes. Bring on the next election.