NSWCCL totally opposes the amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Freedom of Speech Repeal of S.18C) Bill 2014 issued as an exposure draft by the Commonwealth Attorney-General on the 25th March 2014.
The amendments will dramatically narrow the definition of unlawful racist speech and the contexts in which racial vilification will be allowed are so broad as to include almost every context in which public racist abuse could occur. The Act will effectively be gutted removing vital protections against racial vilification that have worked well for 20 years.
The Government has provided no justification for these radical amendments - beyond the unwarranted assertion that the current protections unreasonably limit freedom of speech. They do not.
Our disagreement with the Attorney-General is not about the importance of freedom of expression. It is about the critical importance of effective protections against the very real dangers of racism, including racial vilification, in the current Australian context. NSWCCL recommendations include:
- The proposal should be withdrawn from consideration by the Australian Government
- Any proposed future amendments of Section 18 provisions should be supported by a substantive justification and engage the community in meaningful discussion within a public and considered review process.