Senators support race law change

Eric Abetz
Nanjing Night Net

TasmanianLiberal senators have backed a bill that seeks to water down the Racial Discrimination Act, describing it in part as“an affront to freedom”.

At present, section 18C of theAct states that it is illegal to”offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” on race orethnicity grounds.

Firebrand conservative senatorCory Bernardion Tuesday introduced a private member’s bill that called for the words “offend” and “humiliate” to be removed.

Thechange wassigned by all but one of the Coalition’s backbenchsenators, includingTasmanian senators Eric Abetz, David Bushby, and newly elected Jonathon Duniam

Senator Abetz said the billwould still retainstrong protections against hate speech.

“Freedom of speech is one of our foremost and fundamental freedoms as a society and section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is an affront to that freedom,”Senator Abetz said

“(We) have complete faith and confidence in our fellow Australians to have and to use that fundamental freedom.”

Senator Bushby described people facing criminal prosecutions for insulting or humiliating someone “afundamental injustice”.

“We don’t need a law and threat of criminal prosecution to ensure Australians exercise commonsense,” Senator Bushby said.

Senator Duniam described the words “humiliate” and “offend” as highly subjective.

The push to freer speech under the law runs parallel to proposed changes recently introduced by the TasmanianGovernment.

Thesechanges wouldallow people to make insults or cause offence for religious reasons and give the Tasmanian Anti-Discrimination Commissioner the power to reject a complaint ifoffence couldnothave been predicted.

The commissioner’s officereceived 19 complaints in 2014-15 based on racial discrimination and four complaints based on religious belief.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.


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