A victory for multicultural Australia

Last night’s defeat of changes to section 18C in the Senate is a victory for multicultural Australia of which we should all be proud.

THE HON TONY BURKE MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER

SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR WATSON

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP

SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL

SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY

MEMBER FOR ISAACS

 

A VICTORY FOR MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA

Last night’s defeat of changes to section 18C in the Senate is a victory for multicultural Australia of which we should all be proud.

But the fight to save Australia’s protections against racist hate speech isn’t over – it’s only just beginning.

Weakening protections against racial hate speech never made sense. The backlash to the government’s proposals was immense.

Multicultural communities around Australia rose up and said “no” to more racism in Australia. We thank them for their efforts – they made all the difference.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is a good law which has functioned well for 20 years. It never needed to be changed, and the Senate agreed.

The bulk of the procedural changes in the bill have not yet been dealt with. The government is still refusing to accept the sensible advice of the Human Rights Commission and the Law Council of Australia, that several proposed changes will be damaging and counterproductive.

Labor always agreed that some changes had to be made to the processes of the Human Rights Commission – they just did not have to be tied up with weakening of protections against racial hate speech.

Shadow Minister for Multicultural Affairs Tony Burke said: “This win will be felt by anyone who has experienced racism and knows that racism is more than just words.”

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: “The Liberals were defeated when they tried to repeal section 18C entirely in 2014 – and yet here we are, and they have tried and failed to weaken it once again.

“This government has an ideological obsession with section 18C and Prime Minister Turnbull’s right-wing masters won’t give up easily. Labor will always fight to keep section 18C safe for good.”

FRIDAY, 31 MARCH 2017