Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution: Origins and Future

calendar icon

Event Details

20 July 2018 at 6:00 pm – 20 July 2018 at 7:30 pm


Presented by Monash Law and the Australian Association of Constitutional Law

Date: Wednesday 25 July 2018
Time: 6:00pm - 7:30pm (refreshments will be served from 5:30pm)
Venue: Monash University Law Chambers, Auditorium, 555 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne
RSVP: Friday 20 July. Book your FREE ticket here

Is religious freedom under attack?

Should a baker be obliged to bake a cake for a gay couple's wedding? Can a Christian university prevent their students from having sex?

Recent legal developments in Australia and abroad have put personal freedoms at the top of public consciousness.

In 2017, in response to the legalisation of marriage equality in Australia, the Turnbull Government commissioned a review into whether Australia's religious freedom laws are strong enough. The Government is expected to formally respond to the review's findings in August 2018.

Critics of the review see it as part of a 'culture war' which targets LGBTIQ people, while its supporters see it as a bulwark against the encroachment on their personal beliefs.

So, what should our laws do? Should they protect freedom of religion, or freedom *from* religion?

Expert speakers

Hosted by Damien Carrick (presenter of the Law Report on ABC RN), this free event features a line up of expert contributors to the current public debate about religious freedom, including:


  • Professor Gillian Triggs, former President of the Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Associate Professor Luke Beck, Monash University
  • The Hon. Ron Merkel QC, Victorian Bar
  • Fiona Patten MLC, Victorian MP and leader of the Reason Party
  • Morgan Begg, Institute of Public Affairs

Opening address & book launch

  • The Hon. Mark Dreyfus QC MP, Shadow Commonwealth Attorney-General, will officially launch A/Prof Luke Beck's new book Religious Freedom & the Australian Constitution.

Book your FREE ticket here


For more information about the event, email or

Book launch: Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution

This free event celebrates the release of Associate Professor Luke Beck's new book Religious Freedom and the Australian Constitution: Origins and Future (Routledge, 2018).

This book examines the origins of Australia’s constitutional religious freedom provision. It explores the political activities and motives of religious leaders seeking to give the Australian Constitution a religious character and the political activities and motives of a religious minority seeking to prevent it having a religious character. It also examines Section 116, dealing with separation of religion and government, and argues that until now scholars and courts have misunderstood it. The book shows how the origins of the provision lead to Section 116 being conceptualised as a safeguard against religious intolerance on the part of the Commonwealth.

Buy the book

Book purchase discount voucher

Associate Professor Luke Beck

Associate Professor Luke Beck is a constitutional law scholar at Monash University. He previously held positions at the University of Sydney and at Western Sydney University where he was also Director (equivalent to Associate Dean) of Higher Degree Research.

Associate Professor Beck is a leading scholar in the field of separation of religion and government and religious freedom under the Australian Constitution. The principal focus of his research is on developing a deeper and more sophisticated understanding of section 116 of the Australian Constitution in terms of its history and underlying purposes, its relationship and interaction with broader Australian constitutional culture and how it might be best interpreted and applied. He has also published on various other aspects of constitutional and public law.