Labor says that Turnbull’s authority in tatters on 18C

August 21, 2016 by J-Wire Staff
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“Despite telling Australians in February he has “no plans to change” racist hate speech protections in Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, Malcolm Turnbull today left the door open to changes” have said Labor’s Mark Dreyfus and Tony Burke.

Tony Burke

Tony Burke

Shadow Attorney-General and Shadow Minister and National Security Mark Dreyfus and Tony Burke Shadow Minister for Environment and Water and Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia have made a joint statement:

“When asked in an interview this morning about his position, Mr Turnbull replied “it depends how you amend it.”  The Prime Minister’s answer this morning contradicts George Brandis who told the ABC “the issue is off the table”.

But the Prime Minister went further this morning noting the “worthy arguments” of repealing race hate protections.

Malcolm Turnbull must outline what he believes these “worthy arguments” are and what exactly he thinks people should be able to say that’s not permitted under the current legislation.

Mark Dreyfus

Mark Dreyfus

In what appears to be a concerted campaign by hard right-wing elements within the Parliament to undermine his authority, Malcolm Turnbull is being forced to crab-walk away from his pre-election statements.

This comes just days after it was leaked that Malcolm Turnbull may have agreed to repeal race hate laws in order to gain support to roll Tony Abbott. The Prime Minister has also refused to rebuke Coalition MPs who have agitated for the watering down of race hate protections, including members of his own front-bench.

It’s clear Malcolm Turnbull has very little authority within the Coalition. The extent of the divisions within the Liberal Party and the extent to which Malcolm Turnbull is beholden to the right-wing of his Party is on full display.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act protects against offence, insult, humiliation and intimidation based on race, colour, nationality or ethnic origin.

Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world, and every Australian deserves the right to live free from racial and ethnic vilification. Modern Australia and multicultural Australia are the same thing.

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has served Australia well for more than two decades. The only outcome from repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act will be more hate speech. This is unacceptable.


12 Responses to “Labor says that Turnbull’s authority in tatters on 18C”
  1. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    Agree with everything you have to say on the matter, Henry Herzog. It’s not okay to be physically violent with others, and that’s something accepted without argument in our society; it’s equally unacceptable to use words that violate the integrity and dignity of another (another form of violence), however that concept gets lost in the notion of free speech.

    Paul Winter’s suggestions in regard to penalties for speech that denigrates or vilifies would be trodden underfoot very quickly and never see the light of day in a society such as Germany in the 1930s. And it’s that kind of societal transition on a large scale to hate, disenfranchisement, dispossession and ultimately deportation and death, that must be strictly kept in mind. Allow ‘free speech’ that sets fire to what is perceived to be different by inciting others to add to the flames is something that cannot be allowed. This is surely the intention behind Section 18C.

    We bandy the words ‘free’ and ‘freedom’ around too easily. Of course, we are more than fortunate not to live under a totalitarian regime where we must speak in whispers behind closed doors. How truly terrifying that would be, how ultimately shut down in human terms that would become. However, do not take the concept of freedom so far that it becomes rights without responsibility.

  2. Henry Herzog says:

    Ah! so you are still using my stuff, sorry. You must be snowed under to publish comments days after them being posted.

  3. Henry Herzog says:

    Why aren’t you publishing my comments anymore?

  4. michael Burd says:

    Dreyfus & Burke what a Pair !

    • Henry Herzog says:

      And you with Pauline Hanson, what a better pair.
      But you won’t publish that, even though you are great defender of free speech; to insult Muslims, that is.

  5. Adrian Jackson says:

    The Section 18c police state regulation is being debated on Q&A on ABC 1 Q&A tonight Monday at 9.30pm and repeated on Tuesday 23 Aug 16 at 11.20pm on ABC 1.

    Free speech should not be suppressed by the state, which is Orwellian. If others don’t like what some say then they can challenge it again using free speech.

  6. Henry Herzog says:

    Free speech in the hands of racists and fools is a very dangerous thing. The racists use free speech to cultivate fear and hate to get power, and once they get power, they ban free speech. And the fools, and there are an over abundance of them, work it out when it’s too late. Nazi Germany springs to mind as a perfect example.

  7. Danny Kidron says:

    In a democracy you do not have the right to not be offended or insulted.

  8. Liat Kirby-Nagar says:

    If Turnbull allows weakening of Section 18c, he will expose himself as so weak himself that he won’t be worthwhile as a politician or a man. He responds with rather dramatic ‘Prime Ministerial’ vigour in response to news breaking around him in regard to issues that shock, such as terrorism and abuse (read torture) of young people in Australian detention centres. How much is this a front for the real man, a facade used for publicity purposes to imply strength where there is in fact none, may well be seen in change he might allow in this important legislation.

    It’s time Australia had a Prime Minister of intellectual and ethical strength, one who can create boundary lines that must not be crossed for the sake of political deals or corporate favour. He or she does not govern alone and must take much into account in decision-making, however despite that, does need to lead and not be led.

  9. Paul Winter says:

    18C should never have been passed into legislation. There should be a law against group defamation/libel. Truth should be a defence for any statement made and there should be punishment for spreading falsehoods either those invented or through the suppression of facts.

    It is not up to a judge of commissioner to decide it a person’s feelings were in fact genuinely hurt. 18C is too open to abuse by professional victims and those who seek to shut down comments about their community’s misbehaviours.

    If a community behaves poorly, it should rectify its faults. And if the accusation is false, the liar should be made to apologise and if he refuses, to be publicly shamed, fined and made to attend re-education sessions.

    But free speech must not be suppressed. Nor must we allow the restrictions imposed on free speech by 18C be subject to adversarial politics.

    • Henry Herzog says:

      Section 18C is not about stifling the freedom to offend or insult someone. It’s about racially offending someone. A point that Winter and other far-right conservatives never mention. It’s about tackling racism, by making it unlawful, and protecting minority groups from being racially abused, just because they are a minority. And stop distorting what is at stake here, which is making it acceptable to insult Jews just because they happen to be Jews. These conservatives never mention section 18D, which has a heap of exemptions to 18C to protect free speech. But why is it only the right who long for this freedom to insult and offend people on grounds that they’re not white. The problem here is that Winter and his fellow travellers think they’re white, and therefore exempt from racial abuse.

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