ECAJ says 18C fight is “a marathon”

May 14, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Over  100 people, including community leaders and academics, have attended a meeting in Sydney convened by the Chinese Australian Forum to discuss the Federal government’s proposals to alter parts of the Racial Discrimination Act which prohibit racial vilification.   

Delegates

Delegates

The meeting was addressed by the Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Chairperson of the NSW Bar Association’s Human Rights Committee, Dr Sarah Pritchard, and community leaders, including The Executive Council of Australian Jewry’s  Executive Director, Peter Wertheim, Chinese Australian Forum Immediate Past President, Patrick Voon, President of the Australian Hellenic Council, George Vellis, and President of the Korean Society, Luke Song.  Questions and discussion followed, with all speakers severely critical of the government’s proposals.  

Peter Wertheim speaks to the delegates

Peter Wertheim speaks to the delegates

“There is still a long way to go in this fight”, Wertheim told the audience. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint.   There will be ups and downs, and a few surprises.  But rest assured that the allied community leaders who have been campaigning on this issue are more determined than ever to see this through to the finish.  The outcome will determine whether each of us, our children, grandchildren and future generations, will continue to have access to legal avenues of redress against racial vilification when necessary, or whether the disadvantaged, the marginalised and the disempowered will in many cases be forced to suffer racism in silence.”

Responding to reports that Holocaust denier, Fredrick Toben, has made a written submission to the government enthusiastically supporting its proposals, Wertheim said “I am sure the government will derive no joy at all from Fredrick Toben’s endorsement of its proposals to water down section 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act.   Toben has spent a large part of his life vainly attempting to rehabilitate the disgraced record of Nazi Germany.  If the government’s proposed changes to the law are enacted, racist rants of this kind will be given a free pass on the basis that they are part of a “public discussion”.  Worse still, overtly racist discourse will be dignified with the accolade of freedom of expression.   It’s time for the government to abandon its ideologically-driven attempt to emasculate laws that have worked well for nearly 20 years.”

Comments

One Response to “ECAJ says 18C fight is “a marathon””
  1. Quite apart from the intellectually dishonest content of the reported criticism of the government’s proposed restoration of basic principles of free speech into 18C, it indicates a collection of closed minds that do not even attempt to seek a reasonable outcome, that “Discussion followed with all speakers severely critical of the government’s proposals”. It sounds like one of those ABC “love-ins” where everyone agrees with everyone else; has it even occurred to any in this “group-think” (so reminiscent of totalitarian regimes) that there may be some merit in the concerns that true liberals (like the authors of the American constitution) have at excessive assaults on the principle of free speech, no matter how well-intended?
    God protect me from people who believe they have some divine right to limit my freedoms for my sake!

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