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Wednesday, 26 March 2014
Page: 3202


Ms RYAN (LalorOpposition Whip) (13:48): I rise today to express my concern at the retrograde actions of this government in seeking to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and failing to discuss section 18D, which protects free speech, and to express my concern that this government is sending a dreadful message to the people of Australia that bigotry is okay. In this place this week there has been faux horror that the 'bigot' word was used in questions, with scant regard for the fact that the word was used in the other place first, by Senator Brandis—not by those on this side—and that it was used accurately to describe what is at issue with this repeal. This government, for all its talk about zero bullying, has sent this country backwards in our most important debate. All over the country, kids in classrooms are listening, and I am really worried about the message they are receiving from the grown-ups—the grown-up government—about the way they behave toward one another. What they are hearing is that bigotry is okay, that the government said it was. What they are hearing is that it is their right to say racist things to their classmates.