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Turnbull loses his backbone on 18C



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THE HON TONY BURKE MP

SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ENVIRONMENT AND WATER SHADOW MINISTER FOR CITIZENSHIP AND MULTICULTURAL AUSTRALIA SHADOW MINISTER FOR THE ARTS

MEMBER FOR WATSON

THE HON MARK DREYFUS QC MP SHADOW ATTORNEY-GENERAL SHADOW MINISTER FOR NATIONAL SECURITY MEMBER FOR ISAACS

TURNBULL LOSES HIS BACKBONE ON 18C

Malcolm T urnbull has once again demonstrated his inability to s tand up to the far right of his party, s ignalling this morning that he will support a P arliamentary inquiry into S ection 18C of the R acial Discrimination Act.

T his is a direct attack on protections against hate speech outlined in S ection 18C of the R acial Discrimination Act. Don’t be fooled - this will not be an honest investigation into how S ection 18C works. It is a fig leaf for an attempt to water down laws against hate speech.

Less than three months ago Malcolm Turnbull said that he would not be “distracted by" the paltry case for amending 18C .

But today he says he sees "considerable merit" in considering the proposal. What has changed?

Coalition members in the Prime Minister’s own state of NSW have been anonymously quoted as saying they do not want the law changed. We saw from the backlash in 2014, when T ony Abbott tried to repeal 18C , that the rest of Australia does not want the law changed either.

All this shows is that Malcolm Turnbull is a weak P rime Minister who is under the thumb of the hard right of the C oalition party room.

L abor created the protections in 18C which Australian communities hold so dear, and we will continue to defend them against this needless inquiry. We are s ick of

hearing people who will never be the targets of racial discrimination become the experts on why it’s not a problem.

Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia Tony Burke said: “We need them to make clear - what is it that they want to be allowed to say that is currently not permitted? What forms of hate speech do they want to see made legal? The last thing Australia needs is more hate speech.”

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: “Labor fought back against the last push to abolish 18C in under Tony Abbott and George Brandis, when they declared people had a right to be bigots. Australians were appalled then, and they will mark down this government again for pursuing its own ideological agenda instead of looking at the big issues affecting our nation”.

It is time that Malcolm T urnbull pulls his party into line and reass ures the Australian public that racist hate speech is not, nor will it ever be, acceptable under the T urnbull government.

MONDAY, 7 NOVEMBER 2016

MEDIA CONTACTS: ASH BERDEBES (BURKE) 0403 288 479 JOANNA HEATH (DREYFUS) 0427 915 633