‘Green-lighting hate speech’: John Robertson on changes to Racial Discrimination Act

Opposition Leader John Robertson: “No good can come from lowering our own nation’s defences against racial or religious intolerance.” Photo: Ryan OslandNSW Opposition leader John Robertson has questioned the Federal Government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, saying they risk “green-lighting hate speech”.
Nanjing Night Net

In a submission to Prime Minister Tony Abbott, Mr Robertson said he had serious questions about the Liberal Government’s motivation in proposing the changes to s18c of the Act.

“As far as I can tell, the government has chosen to take its marching orders from the likes of Andrew Bolt, who argue that our racial discrimination laws should not be used to support a “victim mentality” among multicultural groups or comfort hurt feelings,” he said.

“It is bad enough that the Liberal government seeks to fix a feature of the current Act that isn’t broken. Even worse, the protections you want to wind back risk green-lighting hate speech. They let those who would engage in racist taunts off the leash.”

Mr Robertson said the proposal to remove the words “offend, insult and humiliate” would drastically narrow the definition of racial abuse.

He said the existing law strikes the right balance between freedom of speech and protection against racial discrimination.

“Removing the reasonable and good faith requirement opens the door to purveyors of hate, sloppy journalists and those whose arguments wilfully ignore the facts, such as Holocaust-deniers,” he said.

“So many Australians have come to this country from troubled parts of the world mired in war or sectarian conflict. No good can come from lowering our own nation’s defences against racial or religious intolerance.

“It is increasingly difficult to escape the conclusion that these changes have been concocted simply to placate right-wing commentators.”

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