Leaders blast Commissioner’s call for the axing of Section 18c

February 23, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Australia’s new Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson has used an extensive interview in Jewish media to call for the axing of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Tim Wilson

Tim Wilson

Michael Danby, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Leader of the Opposition said: ‘Tim Wilson is someone who I have always regarded as nice guy, however an interview with the Australian Jewish News showed his ideology trumped his common sense.  Mr Wilson insisted that the section of the act Racial Discrimination Act (Section 18C), which has been used against holocaust deniers, be axed. “Asking elderly survivors of the Nazi Genocide to call out deniers like Fredrick Toben ‘and to exercise their free speech’ betrays a serious lack of imagination”, Michael Danby argued.

Mr Danby, Federal Member for Melbourne Ports, said there had been at least 8 occasions over more than a decade where the civil law, particularly the contentious 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act had been successfully used. This use of 18C was of no problem to former Liberal government led by Prime Minister John Howard and it should not be a problem to the current conservative administration, Danby insisted.

Michael Danby linked Wilson’s hard line advocacy against the civil law protections of the Racial Discrimination Act and his calling for the abolition of 18C, to the extreme ideology of the Institute of Public Affairs (think tank) from which he came. “Its not just that the IPA are opposed to civil protections against racial discrimination but they also favour an ultra-libertarian approach to the prevention of terrorism”, Danby pointed out.

Danby concluded that “the Ideologues of the IPA opposition to the use of metadata, with all of the legal protections, was indistinguishable from the position of Julien Assange and Russian based CIA defector Edward Snowden.” 

President of  The Executive Council of Australian Jewry Robert Goot commented: “A complete repeal of section 18C would go against decades of cross-party consensus in Australia that racism must not be used as a tool of persuasion in public debate.

Sections 18C and 18D do no more than enshrine that consensus, and provide the targets of hate speech with a legal avenue to defend themselves when they consider that the vilification is sufficiently serious to warrant the expenditure of time , effort and money to seek redress. The Racial Discrimination Act as a whole is of fundamental importance.  In many ways it defines the moral basis of Australian politics and society.  Those who seek to change it risk seriously undermining social cohesion and stability.”

AIJAC’s Jeremy Jones told J-Wire: ”

“18C of the Racial Discrimination Act came about after years of consultation, debate and compromise. There is not an iota of evidence that anti-Jewish propaganda is effectively dealt with simply by “exposure” – to the contrary, there is evidence that this is ineffective.

Tim Wilson’s opinion of what is necessary does not reflect any knowledge or understanding of a history of decades of different approaches to the challenge of dealing most effectively with those individuals in Australia who were having a detrimental impact on the lives of individuals who were targeted  simply because they were Jewish. He is new to his position but if he takes his  responsibilities seriously and genuinely studies and researches racism and anti-racist strategies  in Australia over the past forty years, there is reason to believe he will develop a more sophisticated understanding of the issues and challenges.”


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