By Greg Brown – The Australian
Scott Morrison has flagged delays in key elements of his pre-coronavirus agenda, saying cabinet has shelved discussion on religious freedom legislation and a promised anti-corruption commission.
The Prime Minister also declared the timetable for a referendum on the constitutional recognition of indigenous Australians would depend on whether “consensus is able to be achieved for it to be successful”.
As he set out a new plans for industrial relations and skills reforms to help steer the economy out of the coronavirus crisis, Mr Morrison said his government was yet to reconsider religious freedom changes, and the proposed federal anti-corruption body.
“We haven’t had the opportunity to revisit (those proposals) because of the crisis, and it’s not something the cabinet has considered now for some time,” Mr Morrison told the National Press Club on Tuesday. “When it comes to the indigenous recognition — what the Minister for Indigenous Australians (Ken Wyatt) has continued to do is conduct his process.”
Mr Wyatt last year flagged an aim to hold the referendum in this term of parliament if he was confident the proposal would succeed.
The referendum process is handled separately from a “voice to government” — a proposed indigenous advisory body that will be progressed through legislation when a model is established.
Mr Morrison unveiled plans for a commonwealth integrity commission at the end of 2018 but there was no draft legislation released. The body would investigate corruption allegations by federal officials and politicians.
The government released a second draft on the religious discrimination bill in December and the legislation was supposed to be finalised in the first half of 2020.
The government came under pressure over the legislation from leading faith, legal, business, education, health and social groups which demanded the bill be heavily amended, delayed or dumped.