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Racial Hatred Bill



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and Ethnic Affairs

MEDIA

Senator

j• Short Shadow Minister for Tmmigration I\ A A.0.-La-ALL.C10- flowAssisting the Leader on Multicultural AffairsIMEA 44/94Racial Hatred BillThe Coalition's decision today to oppose the Government's Racial Hatred Bill wastaken only after very full consultation with the leaders of a wide range of ethniccommunities. These consultations stand in stark contrast to the Keating Government'sefforts to impose this intolerant and dangerous legislation on all Australians.Those consultations revealed a widespread concern that the Government's Bill wasunnecessary, divisive, and potentially counterproductive to social cohesion, toleranceand diversity.The Coalition remains as totally opposed as ever to racism in whatever form it rearsit odious head.We Australians are blessed that our multicultural society is the most diverse, tolerantand cohesive society on earth. The Government's Racial Hatred Bill is a political stuntwhich could damage the fabric of this society by encouraging intolerance andconfrontation between different sections of the Australian community, particularly thosefrom non-English speaking backgrounds.These sections of the Australian community - along with all Australians - rejoice in thefreedom of speech, thought and expression that is an integral part of our vibrantdemocracy. The Coalition will have no part in threatening or curbing thesefundamental underpinnings of the Australian way of life.The Government's Bill is bad law. It would place at risk the ability of those sectionsof our community who come from overseas countries of origin to continue their oftenvigorous rejoicing in their cultural heritage and history. Even the use of historicsymbols, insignia or flags could become subject to prosecution under this Bill.The Coalition is committed to defending these basic freedoms now enjoyed by allsections of the Australian community.There is a very widely held view amongst virtually all ethnic communities thatdraconian racial hatred legislation of the nature proposed by the Keating Governmentis not the right course for Australia. They reject strongly the notion that people canbe jailed for what they say. Many of them came to Australia to live to escape this veryconcept. —COMMONWEALTH PARLumENTAR YLIBRARY

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They believe, on the contrary, that widespread multipronged educational strategies are of the highest priority. Education attacks the causes of racism. Legislation does not. Any legislation should be an appendage to educational strategies, not the reverse.

Nevertheless, the Coalition does accept that there is a place for Commonwealth legislation that properly protects free speech whilst at the same time upholding the rights of all citizens to dignity and respect on the basis of their racial and ethnic origin.

For this reason the Coalition will be introducing its own Bill in due course to give effect to these basic aspirations and rights.

The Coalition totally shares the views of ethnic communities that extensive multi pronged education and awareness must be accorded the highest priority. Accordingly, Opposition Leader Alexander Downer announced today that the Coalition will support a $10 million campaign aimed at this objective.

The campaign will be directed towards schools and other educational institutions, and the wider community. It will enable community workers and community leaders to better assist their members resolve racial incidents, and understand their rights, particularly for recently arrived and older migrants of a non-English speaking

background. The campaign will also address the extensive ignorance and lack of understanding of ethnic communities in Australia that exist in various quarters, including in particular the media. Further details will be announced at a later date.

Canberra 10 November 1994 For further information contact Senator Short on (06) 277 3119

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