Tag: Sec 18 (c)

Racial vilification law changes give a wrong message: Mark Dreyfus

Mark Dreyfus, Shadow Attorney General addressing the gathering. Photo: SAT

Mark Dreyfus, Shadow Attorney General addressing the gathering. Photo: SAT

By Neeraj Nanda

Melbourne, 9 April : Attorney-General George Brandis recently laid out controversial plans to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (RDA). The section which protects Australians against racist and hate speech will be repealed and replaced by a new section to outlaw racial vilification and current safeguards against intimidation. The government claims changes will give greater protection against racism “while at the same time removing provisions which unreasonably limit freedom of speech.” A case has been made out that Sec 18-C limits freedom of speech.
This has come under criticism from the opposition, human rights campaigners and ethnic communities. Recent information session on the subject at the Dandenong civic centre, by the Shadow Attorney general Mark Dreyfus and backed by the Human Rights Law Centre laid bare the existing law and the proposed changes.
Mark addressing the gathering said 18-C protected our freedom of speech as well as gave us freedom from vilification. The law survived 11 and a half years of the Howard government and now the proposal is the complete removal of the protection. It was emphasised freedom of speech was not ‘absolute’.
“The Australian labour Party is concerned,” he said.
Hugh de Kretser, Executive Director, Human Rights Law Centre detailed the provisions of Sec. 18-C (protection against racist hate speech) and Sec 18-D (Exceptions from Sec. 18-C). He explained how the Andrew Bold articles talked about some people pretending to be Aborigines (not full blood Aborigines) to get access to facilities. This was challenged the Federal Court (2011) and in which Bolt was found in breach of the RDA.
Under the changes, the words “offend, insult and humiliate” would be deleted from the existing laws. “Vilify” would be inserted but narrowly defined and the existing protection against “intimidation” would also be given a new narrow definition. The drafting of the community standards test opens up the prospect of perpetuating prejudice. The existing free speech exemptions for fair comment, fair reporting and artistic and scientific works would be over-inflated and greatly expanded to include “public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter.” Importantly, the requirements for “reasonableness” and “good faith” in the exemptions would be removed.
“The exemptions are the most concerning part of the changes,” said Mr de Kretser
Answering to a question the Shadow Attorney General said, “We oppose the changes and no case has been made by the government for change. It gives a wrong kind of message.”

- SAT News Service

Daniel Andrews slams proposed changes to Racial Discrimination Act

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Leader of Opposition, Mr. Daniel Andrews addressing the multicultural media. Photo: SAT

By Neeraj Nanda

Melbourne, 05 March: The Abbott governments proposed changes to the Sec 18 (c) of the Racial Discrimination Act have come under heavy criticism from the Victorian Labour Party. Leader of Opposition, Mr. Daniel Andrews denounced the proposed changes which he said could water down the law against hate speech, racial vilification, hateful writing and preaching among others.
The Leader of Opposition was addressing media persons at a multicultural media event in the Victorian Parliament.
He said Victorian Labour was against proposed changes to the Sec 18 (c) of the Racial Discrimination Act and said the ruling Victorian government and the Liberal Party have not spoken against it. Daniel also attacked the proposed cut to funding of multicultural bodies started by the previous Labour government in Canberra.
The funding cuts, Daniel said, were targeted against the Migrant Communities Employment Fund (MCEF) and the Building Multicultural Communities Fund (BMCF) which may lose around $ 6.6 m and $ 14 m funding from the Federal government.
On a question by SAT on the threat to ABC and SBS funding, Mr. Andrews said, “He was worried about the future of the ABC and SBS.”
About Victoria, Daniel said, “I will stand up for Victoria, if anyone does anything wrong”
The Leader of Opposition expressed anguish at the rising crime in Victoria and said, “The crime rate in Victoria has gone up in three years in Victoria and that was bad news.”

- SAT News Service