As a result, he failed the task, and his authority was weakened as a result of Wednesday’s all-night sitting. With less than a month until the election, this measure — which he called “extremely crucial” — has come to a halt.
When attempting to get his controversial religious discrimination legislation through parliament this week, Scott Morrison made three blundering and arrogant assumptions.
First, Morrison believed he could outmaneuver Anthony Albanese on a politically sensitive matter by outplaying him tactically.
This reeked of arrogance: it’s safer to assume your opponent is smarter than you. Second, he overestimated the tenacity of his own party’s moderates. He wasn’t fully plugged into his backbench, especially in the lush suburbs, where independent candidates are putting pressure on him.
The moderates have recently gained a stronger voice, as evidenced by last year’s climate change discussion. Third, Morrison assumed he could rush a complex problem — one he’d been working on for years — in the tense last days of the election campaign. In a close parliament, the “I am PM, therefore I can” premise does not always work.
The battle to win over religious conservatives
Morrison’s political career has already been derailed by poor polling, a crisis in aged care, and leaked communications.
On Wednesday, as the federal government prepared to vote on religious discrimination and related legislation, NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet — who is also a devout Catholic — said something prophetic.
“I’ve made it clear that I don’t believe legislation in this field is required, and I believe it will create more difficulties than it solves,” Perrottet added.
In addition to stating that it is necessary, Morrison stated that he is dedicated to the legislation because he promised it prior to the last election.
In truth, he has been primarily motivated by a desire to retain or win faith-based conservative supporters, notably in Western Sydney’s ethnic areas.
According to certain Coalition sources, these votes were critical to his victory in 2019. Albanese also needs these votes: Labor identified a problem with them after the 2019 election, and he can’t afford to lose those who are currently in the ALP’s side.
So, despite the fact that many in Labor and its base opposed a ban on religious discrimination legislation — Bill Shorten said in parliament that “we will rue the day if this legislation passes the Senate” — the Opposition Leader wrangled a divided frontbench and caucus into supporting it while pressing for amendments.
An modification to the Sex Discrimination Act was included in the government’s package to prevent LGBT kids from being dismissed from religious institutions.
However, this was a more limited undertaking than Morrison had previously given, and it did not include transgender pupils.
Because of the complexity of religious schools dealing with transgender kids, the government stated it needed a report from the Law Reform Commission before acting on them. In the opinion of some Liberals, the exclusion of transgender youngsters proved to be a severe problem.