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Another backdoor attempt to weaken 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

ANOTHER BACKDOOR ATTEMPT TO WEAKEN 18C

The announcement of a parliamentary inquiry today into section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act shows just how weak Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s leadership is.

Just months ago, he declared that section 18C was “not a priority” for his government and they had more important things to do. Not any more, it seems.

What changed? Mr Turnbull lost his backbone.

Don’t be fooled - this inquiry will not be a good faith examination of the merits of the section 18C and how it operates in law. It is nothing but a fig-leaf for yet another attempt to weaken protections against race hate speech.

Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Australia Tony Burke said: “We still haven’t heard from Prime Minister Turnbull - what insulting or offensive speech, based on race or ethnicity, does he want to permit? If the speech he wants permitted is a matter of public interest, it would be covered by 18D.”

Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said: “Labor is steadfast in its position - section 18C does not need to be changed. Together with the free speech defences contained in section 18D, it has functioned well for more than 20 years and served an important role in the development of modern, multicultural Australia.”

The blind obsession of the right wing of the government with section 18C has once again been allowed to overtake a coalition government. First it was Tony Abbott leading it, and now it is Malcolm Turnbull.

Voters who had hoped Prime Minister Turnbull would be different from Tony Abbott must be sorely disappointed.

Labor and community groups will fight this push against section 18C, as they did in 2014. Labor created section 18C, and we will continue to protect it.

TUESDAY, 8 NOVEMBER 2016

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