After promising to weaken protections against racist hate speech, which would have made it easier for Holocaust deniers to preach their hate, Attorney-General Senator George Brandis has today flagged new criminal laws to stop people “seeking to espouse hatred, violence, or worse."

Senator Brandis has indicated he will introduce legislation to create a new offence of advocacy of genocide.

Labor will certainly consider any proposal the Government puts forward, but this is an incredible backflip from Senator Brandis.

Espousing extreme racial hatred has been illegal in Australia under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act for over two decades now, and that provision has been applied in the courts against Holocaust deniers, among others.

Yet Tony Abbott went to the last election promising to repeal section 18C and to weaken race hate protections in Australia. Senator Brandis declared that “people have a right to be bigots” and the attack on the Racial Discrimination Act become his signature policy.

This also comes after several Coalition members continue to advocate for the weakening of race hate protections with a Bill in the Senate.

Now that Senator Brandis has evidently had a change of heart, the Coalition should join with Labor and rule out supporting this divisive and damaging Bill.

Labor will fight any move to weaken protections against racist hate speech and the Abbott Government must rule out any support for changes to section 18C.