18C: The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s submission

December 9, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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In its submission to the Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech the Executive Council of Australian Jewry  states no case has been made for repealing or revising the provisions of Part IIA of the RDA.

The assertion that those provisions constitute an unjustified limitation on freedom of expression has not been demonstrated. On the contrary, this assertion is disproven by voluminous evidence to the contrary in the form of research in Australia and overseas as to the harms of racist hate speech; the conclusions of three national

Whether the practice of soliciting complaints to the Commission (whether by officers of the Commission or by third parties) has had an adverse impact upon freedom of speech or constituted an abuse of the powers and functions of the Commission, and whether any such practice should be prohibited or limited.

Whether the operation of the Commission should be otherwise reformed in order better to protect freedom of speech and, if so, what those reforms should be inquiries as to the nexus between racist discourse and racially-motivated violence and other forms of social dysfunction; and the significant body of jurisprudence that has given effect to Part IIA.

The campaign to reform Part IIA of the RDA, has ostensibly been revived in light of the high-profile QUT Case and the withdrawal of complaints made under section 18C of the RDA against political cartoonist Bill Leak.

Yet the outcomes of these cases demonstrate the robustness of section 18C and the extent of the protections for free speech contained in section 18D. The withdrawal of the complaint against Bill Leak, likely on the basis that the complaint had no reasonable prospect of being upheld, , especially having regard to section 18D, demonstrates that political satire, no matter how subjectively offensive or controversial, does not infringe Part IIA of the RDA merely because the subject matter it seeks to address is racially-related and controversial. The QUT Case shows that public statements made on social media also do not contravene Part IIA of the RDA simply because the statements are about race and have a critical or controversial import. These cases show that the legislation in its current form achieves the correct balance between freedom from racist hate speech and freedom of expression, and should therefore be retained in their present form.

However, we recognise that there are legitimate public concerns about the complaints handling process. Those concerns focus especially on the incidence and consequences for respondents of unmeritorious complaints. It is in the public interest and in the interests of future claimants and respondents that weak or capricious claims are terminated fairly, quickly and inexpensively and the Commission’s resources are devoted solely to delivering justice for victims of the more serious incidents of public racism. The process must fair to both complainants and respondents.

For these reasons, it is our submission that the provisions of Part IIA of the RDA be left in their present form and that the improvements to the complaints process that we have described be adopted. We also urge the government to review the presently unworkable provisions of sections 80.2A and 80.2B of the Criminal Code.

The full submission”

ECAJ -Submission to Parliamentary Inquiry into Freedom of Speech 6 December 2016

Comments

One Response to “18C: The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s submission”
  1. Paul Winter says:

    The ECAJ submission is a verbose legalistic attempt to justify the unjustifiable.

    There is no definition of insult or humiliate. Such terms are subjective and they have been abused. In fact they have been used to silence opinions differing from those claiming to feeling a sense of hurt.

    Apart from 18C having been abused it also has been avoided by those who have genuine reason to complain that their human rights were violated. When Ismail al-Wahwah made inflammatory statements, the professional Jews who lead our community were so determined to have 20D of NSW legislation actually be applied that they were content to ignore the excellent case they had under 18C.

    “Leaders” who spend so much time strategising that they never get around to acting on behalf of the community they pretend to lead and would best serve the community by keeping quiet and quickly resigning.

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