Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus QC and Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michelle Rowland have called on Tony Abbott to reconsider his plan to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“On Harmony Day, we call for the Prime Minister to abandon his plan to water down the protections against racially motivated hate speech contained in Section 18C,” Ms Rowland said.
“Section 18C is not about stopping debate or enforcing ‘political correctness’,” Mr Dreyfus said.
“These provisions are aimed at stopping extreme cases of racial vilification and hate speech.
“There are extensive safeguards in Section 18D to protect freedom of speech, requiring only that discussion and debate about issues touching on race be conducted reasonably and in good faith.”
“Ethnic communities around Australia have expressed their concerns about removing these safeguards and the Prime Minister must listen to these concerns,” Ms Rowland said.
“Harmony Day is a day to promote harmonious communities and having safeguards against hate speech is a vital part of that.”
The Abbott Government promised to repeal Section 18C before the election. Since then ethnic communities from across Australia have voiced their concerns about the effect of removing this important protection, and have forced the Government to reconsider its position.
FRIDAY, 21 MARCH 2014