Senator PATRICK: I just want to make it very clear that Centre Alliance's position is that we do not support discrimination against students or teachers on the basis of gender identity or, indeed, sexual orientation. We supported a motion last week—
Senator Wong: Stop lying!
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT (Senator Brockman): Order! Senator Patrick, you have the call.
Senator PATRICK: We supported an amendment last week to—
Senator Wong: Stop lying!
The ACTING DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Wong, it would help the chamber if you withdrew it. I did not hear what you said.
Senator Wong: He is lying, but I will withdraw. I will withdraw if it assists the chamber.
Senator PATRICK: Thank you, Mr Acting Deputy President. We supported the motion last week to bring this on. We had a relatively simple bill that had been placed before the chamber. Late on Friday night, we received amendments from the government that were quite complex and we spent some time over the weekend trying to work through those. We got to Monday and we still didn't have a position. My colleague Senator Griff stood up and indicated that we would be abstaining because we weren't in a position to say yes or no to the government's amendments. We are obliged by our constituents to consider these amendments, so we sought to have it referred to committee as a method for making sure that the amendments were properly considered. In doing so, I was yelled at across the chamber. Senator Wong decided to scold me across the chamber for delaying something to try and get it right, and yet that's exactly what we are seeing happen here today. We are seeing Labor deciding to slow it down so that it can be properly considered.
In the last 24 hours, one thing that has also arisen is the fact that there is a problem with the Labor Party's bill. This is what happens when you rush legislation. I understand the importance of this legislation, but when you rush things, you end up making mistakes. So it's regrettable that we're not going to proceed today, but it does give the opportunity for everyone to pause, reflect and consider the advice that is before them. I have seen Labor's advice. I've also seen advice from the contrary side of the argument. I have talked to students and teachers. I've talked to teachers of religious schools. I've talked to religious entities. We have listened to our constituents and we have landed in a position which we think is the right balance. We will vote according to our views and the views of our constituents.
I just want to make it very clear once again that we do not support any discrimination against students or teachers on the basis of sexual orientation or, indeed, gender identity. That is our clear position, but we also respect religious faith. There is a balance to be struck here, and we think we've found that balance. Of course, whenever we are approached by people who have contrary views, we will listen to them, but that's where we currently sit. It's unfortunate that this won't be put to a vote today. That's beyond our control; that's the way it is. It's unfortunate.