Turnbull loses his backbone on 18C

Malcolm Turnbull has once again demonstrated his inability to stand up to the far right of his party, signalling this morning that he will support a Parliamentary inquiry into Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

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

TURNBULL LOSES HIS BACKBONE ON 18C

 

Malcolm Turnbull has once again demonstrated his inability to stand up to the far right of his party, signalling this morning that he will support a Parliamentary inquiry into Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

This is a direct attack on protections against hate speech outlined in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Don’t be fooled – this will not be an honest investigation into how Section 18C works. It is a fig leaf for an attempt to water down laws against hate speech.

Less than three months ago Malcolm Turnbull said that he would not be “distracted by" the paltry case for amending 18C.

But today he says he sees "considerable merit" in considering the proposal. What has changed?

Coalition members in the Prime Minister’s own state of NSW have been anonymously quoted as saying they do not want the law changed. We saw from the backlash in 2014, when Tony Abbott tried to repeal 18C, that the rest of Australia does not want the law changed either.

All this shows is that Malcolm Turnbull is a weak Prime Minister who is under the thumb of the hard right of the Coalition party room.

Labor created the protections in 18C which Australian communities hold so dear, and we will continue to defend them against this needless inquiry. We are sick of hearing people who will never be the targets of racial discrimination become the experts on why it’s not a problem.

Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia Tony Burke said: “We need them to make clear – what is it that they want to be allowed to say that is currently not permitted? What forms of hate speech do they want to see made legal? The last thing Australia needs is more hate speech.”

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: “Labor fought back against the last push to abolish 18C in under Tony Abbott and George Brandis, when they declared people had a right to be bigots. Australians were appalled then, and they will mark down this government again for pursuing its own ideological agenda instead of looking at the big issues affecting our nation”.

It is time that Malcolm Turnbull pulls his party into line and reassures the Australian public that racist hate speech is not, nor will it ever be, acceptable under the Turnbull government.

MONDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2016