There have been a number of attempts to create a constitutional bill of rights in Australia, but all have failed. The most recent exploration of the idea of a constitutional bill of rights by the Rudd government in 2010 stalled because of church opposition. Yet Australia has embraced international norms outlawing racial and sexual discrimination passed as ordinary legislation using the Commonwealth’s external affairs power.

This paper discusses whether religious freedom is a norm sufficiently well established in international law that it could also be passed as ordinary legislation in Australia. It then investigates what an Australian religious freedom law might look like and whether it could be crafted so as to allay the church opposition which has shut down previous attempts to create a constitutional bill of rights.