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Tuesday, 8 November 2016
Page: 3126

Racial Discrimination Act 1975


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:07): My question is to the Prime Minister. On 17 October, the Prime Minister right here ruled out changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Less than a month later, the Prime Minister has opened the door to changes. Prime Minister, what changed between then and now? What insults do you want people to be allowed to say?


Mr TURNBULL (WentworthPrime Minister) (14:07): There is one insult I would like to see stopped right now, and that is the constant insult to the intelligence of the Australian people offered by the Leader of the Opposition, with one misrepresentation after another.

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: Talk about post-truth politics!

Ms Catherine King interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Ballarat is warned!

Mr TURNBULL: The Leader of the Opposition has no regard for the facts, no regard for the record and no regard for consistency, and he attempts to mischaracterise, to caricature, anybody that stands in his way of inventing his Shortenian reality, which has no reality and no connection to the real world.

The fact of the matter is this: we have committees in this parliament to consider important issues of public interest, and they do their work—and the Human Rights Committee will do its work. If the Leader of the Opposition wants to go down some road of saying someone believes something could be changed or reformed about the Racial Discrimination Act and those provisions, there will be a lot of racists there, I would say. It will include the Australian Law Reform Commission. They have made suggestions for changes. It will even include Professor Triggs, who has said that there should be changes made and has said that she has been asking for them for years. Well, fair enough. She has welcomed the committee's establishment. Let the committee do its work. We will have a calm, reasoned discussion, and we will see what consensus emerges. I am not interested in gesture politics. I am not interested in misrepresenting the facts. The Leader of the Opposition constantly misleads. We will build consensus through that committee, and we will let it do its work.