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Howard attacks the critics not the racists



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SENATOR THE HON NICK BOLKUS

SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE LABOR SENATOR FOR SOUTH AUSTRALIA

MEDIA RELEASE

No.28/97 15 May 1997

HOWARD ATTACKS THE CRITICS NOT THE RACISTS

"The Howard Government's decision to cut over 40 percent ($30.2 million over 4 years) from the budget of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is another sign that this Prime Minister is weak and sneaky when it comes to racism," Shadow Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, Senator Nick Bolkus, said today.

"The Prime Minister was slow and hesitant to criticise Pauline Hanson and the One Nation Party," Senator Bolkus said. "Yet when people demonstrated against her he was quick to criticise their excesses."

"The Prime Minister has been slow to implement the Government's long awaited anti-racism campaign, and despite the desperate need for it has cut its budget by 55 percent ($5.5 million) over the last two years."

"The cuts to HREOC continue that tradition. Once again the Prime Minister is attacking those who speak out against racism yet he is happy to support racists by trading preferences with them."

"These cuts will devastate HREOC which has seen a 50 percent increase in the number of race-related complaints since the time of Ms Hanson's speech last year, and the Prime Minister support for her right to say it."

"Now those who defend the victims of Ms Hanson's are being attacked themselves."

"But it is not just the victims of racism that will suffer. HREOC also protects the right that all Australians have to be free from discrimination regardless of our sex, age, sexuality, physical and mental disability, and religious and political beliefs."

"These cuts will see at least 60 people, one third of the Commission's staff lose their jobs. And this will have a flow on effect into HREOC's budget because the Government has given them no transitional funding with which to cope with the massive redundancy payments that will result. This will lead to the loss of even more of the services that BREOC provides."

"The Government should reverse these cuts and all decent Australians should let Mr Howard know just how disgusted they are with this decision and his attitude to racism in this country."

"We need the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, now more than ever."

Contact: Simon Banks Ph: (06) 277 3388 (bh) or 0419 63 85 87 (m) Fax: (06) 277 3062