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Government to ignore public on hate speech changes



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SENATOR THE HON LISA SINGH SHADOW PARLIAMENTARY SECRETARY TO THE SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL SENATOR FOR TASMANIA

MEDIA RELEASE

GOVERNMENT TO IGNORE PUBLIC ON HATE SPEECH CHANGES

Attorney-General George Brandis has given the clearest indication yet that he’s not interested in how his change to hate speech laws would affect ethnic communities, Shadow Parliamentary Secretary to the Shadow Attorney-General Lisa Singh said today.

“Despite indicating that he would engage in ‘consultation’ on changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, Senator Brandis today admitted he’s only interested in talking to yes people,” said Senator Singh.

“Senator Brandis’s idea of consultation is ‘private conversations’ with people he regards as community leaders.

“If the Attorney-General were to engage in genuine community consultation, he would realise that Indigenous Australians and members of many ethnic communities support these laws as they currently stand.

“The Attorney-General tries to paint this as a matter of free speech, but when it comes to the voices of the public, he’s just not interested in hearing their views.”

Senator Brandis has signalled his intention to weaken or remove the protections under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, despite the Australian Human Rights Commission today telling Parliament that the law has only ever applied to extreme cases.

“These laws are designed to stop the worst cases of hate speech, such as denial of the Holocaust, overtly racist attacks against Indigenous Australians or material designed to intimidate people,” Senator Singh said.

“These laws do not punish or curtail public debate, and the section after the provision in question clearly protects freedom of speech and genuine public debate.

“The repealing of Section 18C wouldn’t offer a stirring defence of intellectual freedom - it would give licence to hate speech of the worst kind.”

MONDAY, 18 NOVEMBER 2013

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