Community groups united against 18C

News today that ethnic community groups around the nation have mobilised in opposition to the Turnbull government’s attack on protections against racial hate speech should surprise no-one – except perhaps Mr Turnbull himself.

 

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

 

COMMUNITY GROUPS UNITED AGAINST 18C

News today that ethnic community groups around the nation have mobilised in opposition to the Turnbull government’s attack on protections against racial hate speech should surprise no-one – except perhaps Mr Turnbull himself.

In 2014, the Abbott government backed down from its campaign to destroy section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act in the face of overwhelming public pressure. Two years later, with a government apparently unable to learn from its predecessor’s mistakes, that pressure is beginning to build once again.

There is a reason for this – 18C is a good law, with established jurisprudence, which strikes a balance between freedom of speech and protection against racial hate speech. It should be kept, unchanged.

The parliamentary inquiry, set up by Prime Minister Turnbull after he buckled to pressure from extreme backbench MPs, has so far received 135 submissions with ethnic communities voicing their support to keep 18C.

The question now is – will Prime Minister Turnbull listen to the Australians who care about this issue? Or will he ignore them and continue to be led by extreme backbenchers instead?

The course Prime Minister Turnbull takes on section 18C will be a true test of his leadership. If he has any backbone at all, he will accept that Australians do not want section 18C to be changed and rule out any further action.

If Prime Minister Turnbull is considering changes he needs to make clear - what does his government want people to be allowed to say that they currently cannot? What forms of hate speech does his government want to see made legal?

Labor stands with ethnic community groups against changes to section 18C. We won the fight in 2014, and we will win it again.

THURSDAY, 29 DECEMBER 2016