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In Defence of 18c

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THE HON MICHAEL DANBY MP

MEMBER FOR MELBOURNE PORTS

SPEECH IN PARLIAMENT - 30TH OF MARCH 2017

IN DEFENCE OF 18C OF THE RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT

Mr DANBY (Melbourne Ports) (14:17):  What is going on with the mob opposite? What kind of government are they that seem to have lost the basic ability to count—one of the most important attributes in politics. They have advanced to the Senate a proposition on the issue of 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act that they know will be defeated. It is just like when they advanced the idiotic idea that Australians, including many of the decent people opposite, should support an extradition treaty to China, knowing that they did not have the numbers. Three weeks ago in this place, I signalled, in a speech rejecting a report of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties, that Labor had its doubts about passing the extradition treaty. It was reported in the newspaper, in The Australian. The government seem to have lost the ability to understand politics. Fancy tantalising our Chinese trading friends with a treaty and then withdrawing it in front of their eyes.

In a diverse, racially harmonious country like Australia—a success story—why are you abandoning something that has existed for many years? I might say, it was for 11 years of the Howard government. Sections 18C and 18D—the two provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act that have seen harmonious relations between all Australians maintained—are going to be abandoned. As the member for Batman pointed out, it is because of some ideological ginger group in the government that does not represent many of the good people on the other side. It completely defies understanding that you would put up these resolutions and discredit yourselves, when you know they are not going to be successful.

It is not only that sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act were completely okay for the 11 years of the Howard conservative government. I want to give you some examples of the kinds of things that should never be seen in or supported by the Australian public. There was a case before the equal opportunities commission relating to Olga Scully, who repeatedly distributed anti-Semitic literature in letterboxes in Launceston. She sold and offered such literature in a public market in Launceston, offending and confronting many people. She said that people who were victims of the Nazi genocide were stealing people's money, that they were frauds et cetera. How many times does this have to happen under the government's proposed new reframed act for a similar judgement to be made against people like Ms Scully? As Andrew Bolt suggests, will it be five times they have to be abused before the cock crows?

I think the current Australian system works well. We have a great country. We have tolerance between many groups. We have the doctrine of the fair go. Of course procedural fairness at the Human Rights Commission can be adjusted so that only serious cases are considered. But if it ain't broke don't fix it, particularly when you know you are like Judean People's Front, the suicide squad pictured in the Monty Python film where they all kill themselves and they have no result at all. There is going to be no change to the law, because the Senate will block it. Why advance it? Why destroy public harmony in Australia, when we have a law that existed for 11 years under John Howard?

It's the Turnbull Government to the rescue!.

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