Community welcomes recommendation to no change decision to 18C
Community organisations have welcomed the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights decision to make no change to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act whose critics want changes.
The Act which makes it illegal to offend, insult and humiliate someone because of their race.
Peter Wertheim of The Executive Council of Australian Jewry said: “It is clear that there was no consensus within the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights in support of amending sections 18C and 18D of the RDA, and no recommendation for changing those sections has been made. Instead, the Committee has simply listed a range of options for amending the sections which were put forward during the Inquiry. The fact that the Committee did not recommend any of those options reflects the overwhelming weight of submissions from the public against altering sections 18C and 18D at all.
All of the recommendations made by the Committee are proposals for changes to the complaints process and educating the community about the evils of racism. We commend the Committee for limiting its recommendations to those matters, and for not recommending any changes to sections 18C and 18D.
The Committee’s proposals for changes to the complaints process and for educating the community about racism deserve to be carefully considered by the Government and the community.”
Dr Colin Rubenstein, executive director of The Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council said: “AIJAC is pleased that the inquiry found no consensus for change to the wording of either 18C or 18D – which we view as unnecessary and potentially damaging.
We are quite comfortable with the recommendations made for streamlining the complaint-handling process through the Human Rights Commission, including improving the HRC’s ability to quickly terminate complaints that are vexatious or have no legal chance of success. We are of course in favour of the recommendation for increased education efforts to counter racism and intolerance.
Overall, AIJAC welcomes the result, which is largely consistent with our submission to the inquiry.”
The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) President Jennifer Huppert stated, “We are pleased with the report. We continue to call for the Racial Discrimination Act to remain intact, to remain a line of defence against racism and hate speech.
We also support the recommendations that call for changes in processes around the Australian Human Rights Commission to ensure that claims with no reasonable chance of success do not proceed.”
Meantime the Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten said: “Messing around with the Racial Discrimination Act is an ideological obsession for the Liberal party. The more they talk about it, the more it makes you wonder:
What exactly do they want to be able to say?
What humiliating vitriol do they think the government of Australia should be encouraging?
We live in a marvellous multicultural nation – enlarged and enriched by generations of migrants, from all around the world. We don’t just tolerate diversity in Australia – we embrace it. That’s not something we should sacrifice for an ideological agenda.”