ALP call to prefer same-sex backers

ALP call to prefer same-sex backers

Andrew Clennell & Simon Benson — The Australian — 28 April, 2018


Fresh from Bill Shorten’s celebration of the same-sex marriage parliamentary vote, the Labor Party is set to urge at its national conference for Labor to “preference” organisations that “ensure the equal and fair treatment of their LGBTIQ employees”.

The draft national ALP policy platform, set to be debated at the party’s national conference in Adelaide in July, argues that all federal government agencies “and associated supply chain uphold the United Nations Free and Equal Global Business Standards of respecting and defending human rights, eliminating discrimination and supporting their LGBTIQ staff”.

The platform has been drafted by a national policy forum dominated by members of the left.

It also decrees that Labor “give preference to organisations that ensure the equal and fair treatment of their LGBTIQ employees through fostering positive workplace cultures that celebrate diversity and actively prevent discrimination against LGBTIQ employees, customers, suppliers and distributors”.

Conservative Liberal senator James Paterson, who recently submitted to the government’s review into religious freedoms that bakers, florists and photographers should be allowed to refuse their services for same-sex marriages, yesterday said Labor’s stand was far too specific.

“I hope Labor has at least committed to fair treatment of people regardless of their religious ­beliefs, their freedom of conscience and their … free speech,” Mr Paterson said.

“Labor picks and chooses and the left generally picks and chooses human rights they support … and agree with.”

Traditionally, once the platform goes to national conference with such a recommendation, the right faction might choose to broaden it. The platform also says Labor will “be a model purchaser and deal with people who are fair employers (compliant with industrial legislation, Awards and Agreements, Workplace Health and Safety standards, freedom of association including collective bargaining rights, and superannuation and workers compensation legislation) throughout the life of the contract; and give preference to companies that provide sustainable (i.e. over the life of the contract) employment opportunities for local workers”.

Mr Shorten is on the national policy forum, as are union secretaries, party president Mark Butler, senators Jenny McAllister and Deborah O’Neill, 20 elected representatives of the ALP’s branch members and 20 members of federal Labor caucus.

During the 2013 Labor leadership ballot, Mr Shorten suggested the possibility of gay quotas for MPs in preselections, similar to how quotas now work for women in Labor.

Chief executive of small business organisation COSBOA Peter Strong said of the platform position: “I don’t have a problem with it as long as there’s no hidden agenda. There will be some individuals who might have a problem with it, the same as with same-sex marriage.”

But Australian Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO James Pearson said that although “Australian businesses are leaders in practical inclusiveness and working with their LGBTIQ staff”, the chamber would need to “carefully review any proposed additions to government purchasing requirements”.

“It would be important that any government not add to the costs of doing business with government, nor add to the red tape businesses need to navigate to do business with our governments,” Mr Pearson said.

Mr Shorten’s office declined to comment last night.

This article originally appeared in The Australian.

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