In an interview today in Launceston, Senator Abetz called for immediate action to amend Section 18C.
The dismissal of the case against the three QUT students is a most welcome decision by Judge Jarret. It’s very clear that the case should never have been brought in the first place and the reason the case was brought was because of the lax language in section 18C which allows these weak words of insult and offend to be used to bring a case so those words as a minimum need to be removed from section 18 and the sooner that can happen the better and secondly, this case now raises very serious questions over the administration of the Human Rights Commission and how these cases were brought in the first place. Keeping in mind that some of these students paid go-away money to the person to get rid of the case. The case has now been thrown out. We now have also Bill Leak the cartoonist facing a similar problem courtesy of the Human Rights Commission where one of the Commissioners publicly asked for somebody to bring a complaint. This I not the way we do justice in Australia so clearly the administration of the Human Rights Commission needs looking at but in the short term and quick term, we do need to fix section 18C.
The Prime Minister is looking at a Parliamentary inquiry, do you think that’s the right way to go?
A Parliamentary Inquiry is definitely needed. I would personally like to see section 18C amended quick smart while the Parliamentary inquiry is going on. Having said that, the whole administration of the Human Rights Commission and the Racial Discrimination Act clearly needs to be looked at. It is not working in a manner that is acceptable to the Australian people and I think this review would be more than welcome.
What forum would you like that review of the Human Rights Commission to take practically?
We have a Human Rights Committee of the Federal Parliament, there’s the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee of the Senate, there are a number of vehicles – I’m not married to any particular vehicle. The important point here is that it be undertaken and quickly so that other people are not subjected to the same outrageous manipulation of the legislation which has caused three people untold difficulty as they said last night after the case that it’s basically three years of their lives that they cannot get back, their reputation was trashed because the Human Rights Commission had accused them of racism and whilst a court finding has been found in their favour, it was the process that was the punishment and we’ve got to stop that from happening ever again.