The Amendments to the Equal Opportunity Bill 2011 was voted on and defeated at the Victorian Parliament on the 26th of May. Mary Wooldridge, Community Services Minister, was not in chamber to cast her vote and as a result the Government didn’t have the numbers to pass the Bill. There is open speculation as to why Woodbridge ‘dawdled’ and missed the division, but anyhoo, we’re all just pleased it didn’t get passed.
Anyway, the Government is attempting to reintroduce the Bill (more on whether it’s possible or not below). Today, outside the Parliament of Victoria, there was a rally to oppose the reintroduction of the Bill. It was organised on Sunday and given the short notice, had a commanding turn out! I was too late to catch the real action, but for those of you who were there please shoot feminaust an email and let us know what we missed! However, I did get to snap some sweet as signs. The Bill would make changes to the Equal Opportunity Act, allowing religious schools to discriminate on the basis of faith, sexuality and marital status. It also rolls back the powers of the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission to compel evidence.
Apparently, the Government can’t re-introduce the Bill until we’ve had another election. Conversely, there are arguments being made that because Wooldrige was absent (through no fault of her own, apparently) the Bill can be introduced immediately. For more info on the ins-and-outs of this sticky legal situation try this article. Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews said “I don’t think there is a legal facility, a legal ability if you like, for the Government to reintroduce this bill any time during the next four years.” He also said the Government should “cop it sweet”.
For those of you who live in Victoria, please badger your local member and make it clear to them how opposed you are! At feminaust we definitely will!