Israel Folau religious freedom
Israel Folau (Image: AP/Rick Rycroft)

And the cheap sugar hits just keep on coming, culture-war wise that is, with the religious freedom bill coming around again. This is classic junk-on-junk stuff, prompted by a very particular stoush -- the Israel Folau case -- and responding to no great demand, to carve out a new political flank for the right.

Designed to operate at the federal level, and to override state-based employment protection and service guarantee, the bill's confusions and contradictions are not a design flaw; they're very much part of what's wanted, in which the Coalition can portray itself as defending allegedly embattled religious types, despite the messiness and chaos it creates.

The political customer base is Christians in outer suburban marginal seats, who can be encouraged to feel put upon by a secular culture, and, more sneakily, Muslims in Sydney's west. The latter was the only place in Australia, apart from central Queensland, which voted "no" in the marriage plebiscite. Religious stuff would be the best way to do an end-run around Labor in the region, and hold a key seat such as Reid, in the inner-middle west.