Australia

Labor willing to work with the government on religious freedom

Senator Kristina Keneally says Labor will cooperate on the coalition's religious freedom laws. (AAP)

Labor senator Kristina Keneally has confirmed the opposition is ready and willing to work with the government on new religious discrimination laws.

Labor has locked in firmly behind Scott Morrison's push for new religious freedom laws.

The prime minister intends to make it unlawful to discriminate against people based on their religious beliefs.

He is proposing to amend existing marriage, charities and anti-discrimination legislation to achieve this end.

A religious discrimination commissioner would also be appointed at the Australian Human Rights Commission.

"We are willing to have discussions with the government and work with the government on a religious discrimination and freedom act," Labor senator Kristina Keneally told ABC radio on Wednesday.

"We are waiting to have those conversations. We do stand ready, though, to work with the government on this."

The new Religious Discrimination Act could be brought before parliament as early as 22 July.

The prime minister has told coalition colleagues he wants to work "carefully" through the issue and consult Labor on the changes.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison addresses the Parliamentary church service for the commencement of parliament at the St Christopher's Catholic Cathedral in Manuka, in Canberra, Tuesday, 2 July 2019. (AAP Image/Sam Mooy) NO ARCHIVING
Prime Minister Scott Morrison.
AAP

Government backbenchers will be given the chance to shape it through a series of workshops with the attorney-general, starting later this week.

"What the government are talking about is an issue that goes to protecting religion in an affirmative way as a freedom," Senator Keneally said.

"That's a conversation we are having with them."

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