When will Turnbull give up on 18C?

This morning Prime Minister Turnbull once again opened the door to watering down race hate laws, proving he is incapable of listening to the Australian community who have told him loudly and clearly that they do not want change.

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

WHEN WILL TURNBULL GIVE UP ON 18C?

 

This morning Prime Minister Turnbull once again opened the door to watering down race hate laws, proving he is incapable of listening to the Australian community who have told him loudly and clearly that they do not want change.

 

Mr Turnbull has previously sought to assure that he had “no plans to change” protections against racist hate speech in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Today he has taken another step towards weakening the laws.

 

Every time Mr Turnbull talks about 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act he is dog-whistling to the hard-right wing of his party – indicating just how nervous he is about his leadership.

 

Mr Turnbull has today indicated he supports a push by Senator Dean Smith to set up a Parliamentary inquiry into “freedom of speech” – which would be designed by the government to run its political agenda against the racial hate speech protections which Australians value so dearly.

 

Such an “inquiry” is totally unnecessary. For decades, the Racial Discrimination Act has functioned well to protect ethnic minorities from racial hate speech and has achieved a balance between free speech and protection for minorities. Australia resoundingly rejected the Abbott government’s attempts to abolish 18C – a lesson Mr Turnbull has clearly not learned from. He is sounding more like Tony Abbott every day.

 

A modern Australia is a multicultural Australia where we all share each other’s stories. All Australians deserve the right to live free from racial and ethnic vilification.

 

Mr Turnbull and the hard right wing of his party are still yet to explain – what exactly is it that they want to be allowed to say that they currently cannot under 18C? What forms of insult or offense do they wish to be legal?

 

If Mr Turnbull had any backbone he would have shut down the hard right-wing agenda to destroy 18C months ago. Instead we see him continually opening the door to changes, which shows just  how weak a leader he is.

 

FRIDAY, 28 OCTOBER 2016