Luke Foley says NSW racial vilification laws “weak and ineffective”

December 13, 2017 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley has accused the Berejiklian Government of pandering to Pauline Hanson by breaking its promise to reform the state’s race vilification laws.


If elected in March 2019, a Foley Labor government will show leadership and legislate to strengthen laws against hate speech in its first 100 days, Mr Foley announced in a press conference in Sydney today.

The State Government quietly announced on Monday that there were no plans to strengthen the racial vilification provisions of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which it has been promising for nearly two years and four years after a cross party parliamentary committee recommended that changes be made.

The race vilification laws contained in section 20D of the Act are weak and ineffective and have not led to a single successful prosecution in 30 years.

Mr Foley said the NSW Premier’s decision not to act was forced by a faction within her government that wanted to pander to Pauline Hanson and trade preferences with the One Nation political party.

Mr Foley said he was astonished that the Premier, who’s quick to be seen at multicultural functions, had not shown the leadership to go ahead with the changes which the government has been promising for two years.

Labor’s legislation would include following features:
· Reduce the threshold for prosecutions from ‘incite’ to ‘promote’ serious racial vilification;
· Move the provisions into the Crimes Act;
· Have investigations carried out by the Police not just the Anti-Discrimination Board;
· Remove requirements of Attorney General’s consent for prosecution;
· Extend the limitation period for offences from 6 months to 12 months;
· Clarify that the offence includes quasi – public places;
· Clarify that recklessness is sufficient to constitute intention;
· Include “presumed race” in the Bill.

Shadow Attorney General Paul Lynch said: “The proposed changes have widespread support across the community. Major ethnic, community, religious and legal groups have all supported the changes. A parliamentary committee made up of all parties supported the changes.

 The only group not in favour of the changes to the Act are the Premier and her cabinet colleagues who have made this decision.

 The Government is pandering to Pauline Hanson and the offensive, racist attitudes she proclaims.

 NSW is a successful multicultural society. But to maintain that, we have to make sure our laws protect people from the promotion and advocacy of violence on the basis of race.

 The only people in NSW who seem to be afraid of doing that are in the NSW government.”


NSWJBD CEO Vic Alhadeff told J-Wire: “The NSW Jewish Board of Deputies commends the statement by NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley that “a NSW Labor government will legislate, in our first 100 days, to strengthen the laws against hate speech and the promotion of racist violence,

The ineffectiveness of the law was exposed recently when a spiritual leader publicly threatened death to Jews, and the law was powerless to respond. We welcome the Opposition Leader’s action and commitment to this vital issue for NSW.”

The Keep NSW Safe alliance of 31 community organisations and leaders welcomes the statement by NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley that “a NSW Labor government will legislate, in our first 100 days, to strengthen the laws against hate speech and the promotion of racist violence”. This is an important commitment to the NSW Community and we commend it.

This alliance was formed to urge the NSW Government to enact legislation which will keep our communities, and all people of New South Wales, safe from those who promote racist violence.

It has been proven time and again that the current law is weak and ineffective, and does not deter the promotion of violence against other Australians on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national, ethnic or ethno-religious origin. The NSW Government has acknowledged this failure. The current law does not effectively reach those who set out to promote racist violence. Extremists who light the fuse of racist violence should be liable to arrest, prosecution and, if convicted, punishment.

In 2015 the NSW State Government made a public commitment that it would introduce legislation in the first half of 2016 which would fix the failures of the current law. This is not about freedom of speech; it’s about promotion of violence. Merely paying lip-service to communal harmony is not good enough.


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