MPs break Liberal ranks over Section18C

March 18, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Coalition MPs, Craig Laundy, the Federal Member for Reid, and Ken Wyatt, the Federal Member for Hasluck, have come out publicly to oppose any changes to sections of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) which prohibit public conduct that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” a person or groups because of their skin colour or national or ethnic origin.

Mr Laundy reportedly toldThe Conversation” that he would like the law “to stay exactly as it is”.  Mr Wyatt was reported to have said that ”Australia has come a long way in the last 30 or 40 years and what I wouldn’t like to see is a regression that allows those who have bigoted viewpoints to vilify any group of people at all”.

Craig Laundy

Craig Laundy

The two MPs’ stance has won praise from a group of representatives of the Indigenous, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Arab, Armenian and Korean communities, who have been pursuing a vigorous campaign to persuade Federal politicians against any repeal or watering down of Australia’s laws against racial vilification.

“Craig Laundy and Ken Wyatt have had the courage to say publicly what a number of his Coalition colleagues, some of them very senior, have been saying to us privately”, said ECAJ Executive Director, Peter Wertheim.

Ken Wyatt

Ken Wyatt

“Once people understand that the existing law only applies to serious cases and requires an objective test to be satisfied based on community standards, rather than a subject test based on hurt feelings, it becomes clear that the current law is about enabling targeted groups to defend themselves against racial vilification and has nothing to do with limiting free speech.”

“The law does not stop anybody from offending or insulting others because of their opinions or beliefs.   People can change their opinions or beliefs.  But the current law does prohibit publicly offending and insulting others because of their race, which is something people cannot change. Offending and insulting other people because of their race is not about persuasion.  It’s about attacking their human dignity”’, Wertheim said.

It is expected that the government will table draft legislation before the Parliament within the next fortnight.  “The more extensive the proposed changes are, the stiffer the opposition to it will be”, Wertheim predicted.

“The Racial Discrimination Act is one of Australia’s most iconic pieces of legislation.  It goes to the heart of Australia’s identity as a nation that is both democratic and culturally diverse.  The law ought not to be changed unless there are truly compelling reasons.  The outcome of one contentious case falls a long way short in that regard”, Wertheim concluded.


Endorsed by:

Ms Kirstie Parker, Co-chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Mr Les Malezer, Co-chair, National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples

Mr Vache Kahramanian, Executive Director, Armenian National Committee of Australia

Ms Randa Kattan, CEO, Arab Council Australia

Mr Tony Pang, Secretary, Chinese Australian Services Society

Mr Luke Song, Korean Society of Sydney

Mr George Vellis, Co-ordinator, Australian Hellenic Council

Mr Patrick Voon, President, Chinese Australian Forum

Mr Peter Wertheim, Executive Director, Executive Council of Australian Jewry


One Response to “MPs break Liberal ranks over Section18C”
  1. I am waiting to hear one ethnic community leader supporting changes to Section 18C. So far it is only the Abbott team and other white Anglo Aussies who want it,- publicly. In the wings are all the racists just waiting to unleash their hate speech at will!

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