Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Michelle Rowland, today congratulated the multicultural groups, individuals, and communities across Australia who fought hard against the Government’s proposed changes to sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act that were dropped this afternoon.

The Government’s proposals would have watered down the protections against racist hate speech that have served our nation well since 1995.

Today’s announcement is a victory for all the individuals, multicultural and community groups across Australia who strongly opposed these changes.

Labor remains very concerned that it’s only a matter of time before the Abbott Government tries again weaken protections against racism and bigotry.

The Labor Party stood united with the community against these regressive changes from the outset.

Over 4,100 submissions were received in response to the exposure draft amendment, with a vast majority of submissions opposed to the proposed changes.

Despite the overwhelmingly negative response to the Government’s proposals, the Prime Minister and Senator Brandis continued to entertain the idea of these changes for months, during which time the Attorney-General declared that people have a right to be bigots.

The multicultural communities of Australia fought hard and united on this issue. They have won the public argument that bigotry has no place in modern Australia.

Ms Rowland said the Government’s proposed amendments showed an alarming lack of understanding and appreciation of the dynamics of Australia’s diverse society.

“One of our country’s proudest achievements is our multicultural society. Every Australian deserves the right to live free from racial and ethnic vilification,” Ms Rowland said.

“These changes should never have been on the table in the first place. The very fact that these changes were being seriously considered by this Government was in itself considered to be deeply offensive by many in our community.

“Racist hate speech has no place in our society. The challenge now is to ensure these proposals are gone for good.

“Full credit to the thousands of Australians who made their voices heard and rallied against these deeply regressive changes.”