The Australian Medical Association (AMA) has reserved its position on the revised Religious Discrimination Bill and will carefully assess changes to see if they address the AMA’s earlier concerns over the unnecessary conscientious objection clause.
AMA President Dr Omar Khorshid said it appeared that the Federal Government had made significant changes to the legislation, which was released earlier this week, compared to earlier consultation drafts.
“It does appear that the Government has taken steps to address one of the key concerns raised by the AMA in submissions we have made. In this regard, the ability of health care providers to refuse to provide treatment (the ‘conscientious objection’ clause) has been removed from the Bill,” he said.
“This clause was never necessary as the medical profession already operates under professional standards set out by the Medical Board and other relevant regulatory authorities.”
The AMA also opposed provisions in earlier drafts allowing a religious hospital or religious aged-care facility to discriminate in terms of employment, promotion or transfer.
The AMA was worried that this would have a negative impact on the medical workforce and patients’ access to health care. The AMA is reviewing the Bill to assess the changes that have been made and whether these address our original concerns.
The legislation was introduced into the House of Representatives this week.