Community groups urge MPs not to weaken laws against race hate

November 29, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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A delegation of leaders representing the Indigenous, Greek, Arab, Chinese, Jewish, and Indian communities has held a round of meetings with key MPs in Federal parliament to discuss the current Inquiry into freedom of speech.The groups have strongly urged the government not to weaken protections against racial vilification currently contained in Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA), arguing that these provisions serve the interests of all Australians by safeguarding the cohesion and peacefulness of Australian society.

Jewish representative Rabbi Alon Meltzer 2nd rt

Jewish representative Rabbi Alon Melzer 2nd rt

“Sections 18C and 18D of the RDA have been key components in the array of legislative and educative tools used by each of our communities in our efforts to counter-act racism,” said George Vellis, representing the Australian Hellenic Council.  “We are all deeply concerned that a change to the substantive terms of sections 18C or 18D of the RDA would weaken those efforts and send a signal that a degree of racism in public discourse is now to be considered acceptable.  That would be a break from our past success as a multicultural nation and place our future under a cloud”

Rod Little, Chairperson of the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples added “The RDA is a key pillar underpinning Australian pluralism and respect for diversity and difference. Indigenous Australians have been the target of significant public and private racial attacks. The provisions of the RDA are critical for our protection”.

Khaldoun Hajaj of Arab Council Australia said “We are heartened by the support for our position expressed across the political divide including the Coalition, Labor and the Greens.”

Tony Pang of the Chinese Australia Services Society (CASS) said “The RDA is critical for protecting the community from predatory and malicious verbal attacks. The RDA sets Australia apart from other nations as a clear demonstration of our commitment to combating bigotry and discrimination.”

The group has foreshadowed further meetings with MPs and urged community groups and civil society organisations to lodge written submissions with the Inquiry before the closing date on December 9. They also plan to appear at hearings being conducted by the Inquiry across Australia’s capital cities.

Signatories are

  1. Dr Jackie Huggins, Co-chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
  2. Mr Rod Little, Co-chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
  3. Ms Randa Kattan, CEO, Arab Council Australia
  4. Mr Tony Pang, Secretary/Deputy Chair, Chinese Australian Services Society
  5. Mr Kenrick Cheah, President, Chinese Australian Forum
  6. Mr Peter Wertheim, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry
  7. Mr Tony Pang Chinese Australia Services Society
  8. Mr John Kennedy, President, United Indian Association
  9. Mr Bon Nguyen, President, Vietnamese Community of Australia
  10. Mr George Vellis, Coordinator, Australian Hellenic Council


One Response to “Community groups urge MPs not to weaken laws against race hate”
  1. Henry Herzog says:

    It’s all been said before. Changing or repealing sections 18C and 18D, have nothing to do with free speech and every thing to do with freedom to be a racist. Who you are isn’t anywhere near as important as what you are. You have no choice in who you are, Jewish, Aboriginal; but you can choose what you are; bigot, racist or a decent human being. That’s what the conservatives call equality

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