Turnbull prepared to let racism rip to save his own job

In a test of the Prime Minister’s leadership - which he has failed miserably, Malcolm Turnbull is prepared to trade away protections for Australia’s multicultural communities in order to save his own skin.

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 PREPARED TO LET RACISM RIP TO SAVE HIS OWN JOB

 

In a test of the Prime Minister’s leadership - which he has failed miserably, Malcolm Turnbull is prepared to trade away protections for Australia’s multicultural communities in order to save his own skin.

Make no mistake – any change to section 18C is a weakening of laws against racist hate speech and sends a terrible message to multicultural Australia.

The proposed change has one purpose: to give permission for more racist hate speech.

What forms of racist hate speech does Prime Minister Turnbull want to be able use that he can’t now under the current law?

Replacing the words ‘offend and insult’ with ‘harass’ is not a harmless change.

It destroys the clarity achieved through twenty years of court decisions, which have set the bar high for successful complaints under section 18C. It introduces a brand new ambiguity and uncertainty into the law which is totally destructive.

Prime Minister Turnbull and his right-wing cronies need to explain what will it mean to be ‘harassed’ by racial hate speech?

Will victims of racial abuse have to prove repeated attacks in order to make a successful complaint? Is it enough to be shouted at in public? What if someone shouts racial abuse from a car and then drives past, does that count as harassment?

Shadow Minister for Multicultural Australia, Tony Burke said “on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, not to mention Harmony Day in Australia, the LNP are figuring out just how weak they can make our laws against racial hate speech.”

“To call this Government childish would disrespect children all over Australia. While kids across the nation are learning about respect and harmony, the Liberal Government is fighting to make racism easier.”

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said “this new uncertainty would give more space for racism in this country. Because that is what Prime Minister Turnbull has chosen to do. When presented with the decision of siding with bigots, or siding with multicultural Australia, he has chosen the former.”

“Countless witnesses at the government’s own inquiry into section 18C told the committee that any change would send a signal that more racist hate speech was now permitted. The government has chosen to ignore them.”

Labor will never support changes to section 18C. We chose our side long ago – we stand with multicultural Australia.

We wish this was not a fight we had to have. There are far more vital issues in Australia – saving Medicare, fighting for penalty rates, and promoting housing affordability.

But this government has prioritised its ideological vendetta against section 18C instead.

We fought the destruction of section 18C in 2014 and won. We will do it again.

TUESDAY 21 MARCH 2017