MICHELLE ROWLAND MP
SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURALISM
MEMBER FOR GREENWAY
HON SHARON BIRD MP
MEMBER FOR CUNNINGHAM
STEPHEN JONES MP
MEMBER FOR THROSBY
ILLAWARRA SAYS NO TO CHANGES TO 18C
Illawarra residents have made clear their opposition to the Abbott Government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act during a community forum at Bellambi Surf Live Saving Club today.
Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michelle Rowland addressed the forum, hosted by Illawarra MPs, Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones.
“The Abbott Government’s proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act show an alarming lack of understanding and appreciation of the dynamics of Australia’s diverse society,” Ms Rowland said.
“It is clear that communities right around the country are opposed to these changes, which significantly weaken protections against racist hate speech, and they should not make it to the floor of the parliament.”
“From the post-WWII wave of Italian, Greek and Macedonian migrants through to refugees arriving now from countries like Burma and Sudan, the Illawarra has a long history of welcoming people from different backgrounds and cultures,” said Ms Bird.
“Our local migrant community groups play a strong role in our community by organising activities, providing assistance with housing, transport and other day to day necessities and providing support to people who are looking to settle in our region.
“Many local constituents have expressed their concern about the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act and fear that this will lead to increased levels of hostility towards people from ethnic backgrounds.”
“Contrary to what Attorney-General George Brandis believes, Australians should have the right to be free from bigotry,” said Mr Jones.
“As the first law officer, George Brandis should be defending and upholding federal laws against racism, not leading the charge back to bigotry by repealing them.
“One of our country’s proudest achievements is our multicultural society and I believe every Australian deserves the right to live free from racial and ethnic vilification.”
The Opposition has also called on the Abbott Government to make public all the submissions it has received on the proposed changes.
SATURDAY, 3 MAY 2014