NSW Premier Mike Baird has voiced his opposition to the Abbott Government’s changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
For those who aren’t aware of the background to this, a Melbourne columnist Andrew Bolt (a journalist who has built a career on making inflammatory comments – think Pierce Akerman in the Telegraph) was found to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act for claiming essentially “fair skinned Aboriginals” claimed the race for the purpose of career progression rather than because they identified as Indigenous. The victims of his rant litigated not for money but an apology, successfully.
Bolt had been a vocal supporter of the Liberal Party and when they were elected last year, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced changes to the Racial Discrimination Act that watered down laws prohibiting racial abuse that offends, insults or humiliates and provided exceptions to abuse that intimidates or vilifies if it occurs in “words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter” i.e. in the media. In other words, the likes of Bolt and Akerman could go open slather on ethnic groups for a headline. In defence of the changes, Federal Attorney General George Brandis came out to defend stating people have a right to be bigots.
Do we really want a world where members of the media can attack minorities and individual members of minorities on the base solely of their race without recourse? People must remember that the people attacked will often have no voice if not for the courts providing an avenue for them to defend themselves from the vitriol of media personalities.
Tony Abbott needs to kill this bill and when member of the Christian Right are agreeing with me, you know that this piece of legislation is a particularly nasty one.