‘No more secrets’ in Australia’s baptism gift system
Australia’s new laws for the sale of baptism gifts were introduced to end the secrecy around gifts from the public and religious bodies, with many expecting that the move will encourage people to give more, including religious institutions.
“We want to encourage people that we’ve made these changes in this bill that you can go out and give it to anyone that you want and it will be in the same place, it will look the same,” Attorney-General George Brandis said on Thursday.
Brandis said the laws would provide greater clarity for people and businesses, who will now have to tell the Government about their gifts.
The legislation also includes provisions that require all gifts to be signed off by a religious person or body.
It also includes a provision that will see religious organisations and individuals who receive gifts under the gift system lose their religious status.
The gift system was established in 2002 by former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and the current Prime Minister, Bill Shorten, in the wake of the tragic shooting of teenager Nathan Palmer by an Australian Muslim gunman.
Many people have given gifts, with one in 10 Australians giving a gift every year.
At the same time, there have been concerns raised about the impact of gift giving on religious organisations, including some Muslim groups.
The laws also require religious organisations to keep records of the gifts they give.
Under the new laws, gifts are to be kept for a period of two years, and any gifts from a church, synagogue or mosque are to have a one-year expiration date.
“We know that there is a great deal of misunderstanding about the gift law in Australia,” Brandis told reporters.
He said the Government would also be taking steps to ensure that religious institutions do not abuse the gift laws.
“In this bill, I’m saying that we’re going to work very hard to ensure they are not abused, and we’re also going to ensure the gifts are for the benefit of all Australians,” he said.
“If the gifts have been given by a church or a synagogue or a mosque, I think that will be an important part of that.”