A Liberal backbencher has not ruled out voting against the government's religious freedom legislation over concerns it would override her state's strong anti-discrimination regime and cause "unintended" harm.
Tasmanian Bridget Archer has told The Canberra Times that she doesn't "see a need" for the new legislation, which Prime Minister Scott Morrison plans to personally introduce to the Federal Parliament within days as he inches toward delivering on a key 2019 election commitment before next year's poll.
The Coalition party room backed the watered-down bill at a meeting on Tuesday, but not before Ms Archer and other moderate Liberals raised concerns about one of its key clauses.
The long-awaited bill, which was released publicly late on Tuesday afternoon, includes a provision which would override state laws to protect people who make statements aligned with their religious beliefs.
The protection would only apply to statements which were made "in good faith".
Ms Archer was concerned about the implications of the Morrison government's bill on Tasmania's long-standingAnti-Discrimination Act, which bans people from engaging in conduct which "offends, humiliates, intimidates, insults or ridicules" another person on the basis of attributes including gender, race and disability.
"I don't really see a need for this and I'm concerned about what the potential consequences, including unintended consequences of the legislation, might be," she said.
"It is not reasonable, in my view, that we look to, I guess, preference one cohort of people at the expense of another."
The government plans to start debate on the bill next week, but will refer the legislation to a Senate inquiry after Coalition members warned against rushing through its contentious provisions without further scrutiny.
As for how she might vote on the bill, Ms Archer said; "I haven't explicitly indicated that I reserve the right to cross the floor ... but I do. I'm a Liberal."
Leichhardt MP Warren Entsch was understood to have also questioned the need for the bill during Tuesday's internal debate, while Dave Sharma, Andrew Bragg, Trent Zimmerman, Fiona Martin and Angie Bell all reportedly expressed reservations.
Ms Archer represents the electorate of Bass in northern Tasmania, which is the Liberals' most marginal seat heading into next year's election.
The internal ructions over religious freedoms comes amid ongoing divisions within sections of the Coalition over vaccine mandates.
Equality Australia chief executive Anna Brown on Tuesday warned the "statement of belief" clause would provide a defence for people who faced complaints for saying "offensive, insulting, inappropriate, unacceptable things".
She was concerned that under the proposal, a nurse could be protected for telling someone with HIV that their illness was a punishment from God.
Mr Morrison told colleagues the laws would be a shield, not a sword, for people of faith.
He insisted the proposal was a religious discrimination bill, not a religious freedom bill.
The government agreed to dump contentious provisions included in earlier drafts after they threatened to spark a revolt from moderate Liberal backbenchers.
Among them was the so-called Folau clause, which would have made it harder for an employer to sack an individual for expressing their religious belief. Israel Folau's contract with Rugby Australia was famously ripped up after he posted on social media that homosexuals were destined for hell.
The new bill would also allow religious organisations, such as schools, to give preference to people of the same religion in hiring decisions.
Mr Morrison told colleagues that the bill balanced freedom with responsibility, and was fundamentally about tolerance.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese told Labor caucus on Tuesday morning that he supported religious freedom because people needed to be able to practice their faith.
He said Labor would consider its position on the bill once it had seen it.