Statement – first meeting of the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom

Statement – first meeting of the Expert Panel on Religious Freedom

Domestic Policy Religious Freedom Review
Wednesday, 10 January 2018

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

A human hand holding a pen above a blank piece of writing paper.

The Expert Panel on Religious Freedom held its first meeting today in Sydney. All members of the Expert Panel attended.

Led by the Chair, the Hon Philip Ruddock, the Expert Panel had a wide-ranging discussion on the issues to be considered during the review. The Expert Panel also discussed a range of matters relating to the conduct of the review, including handling of submissions from the public and consultation.

Publication of submissions

In December 2017, initial submissions were called for on the matters raised in the Expert Panel’s Terms of Reference. Today, the Expert Panel agreed to extend the deadline for submissions until 14 February 2018.

The Expert Panel agreed to be as open as possible in its approach to submissions. In this regard, the Expert Panel agreed that all submissions received will be published online before 31 March 2018, provided the author of the submission consents to its publication and provided there is no other reason not to publish the submission (for example, if publication could raise legal issues).

As to submissions that have already been provided, the Secretariat within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will shortly contact the authors to seek their consent to publication.

Further consultations

The Expert Panel will undertake consultations with stakeholders representing a variety of views on the topic of religious freedom, within the time available for the Review.

The Expert Panel appreciates that the issue of religious freedom is of interest to a large variety of people and groups in Australia. The Expert Panel encourages all interested Australians to provide a submission through the online submission form. Submissions will be considered as part of the Expert Panel’s process and will inform its report to the Prime Minister.