Daily Bulletin


The Conversation

  • Written by Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra
image

Malcolm Turnbull has flagged he is inclined to set up a parliamentary inquiry into the controversial section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Questioned on Friday about the section, he pointed to a call by West Australian Liberal senator Dean Smith for such an inquiry, saying that “I think the argument that senator Smith makes is a fair one and the government will be considering it”.

Turnbull has been resistant to revisiting the amendment of 18C. His predecessor, Tony Abbott, had intended to change the act but then retreated, largely because of a backlash from ethnic communities.

But pressure has increased recently, with almost all Coalition senators formally backing a move by Liberal senator Cory Bernardi to remove the words “insult” and “offend” from the section.

The freedom-of-speech push against the section - which makes it unlawful to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” on racial grounds - has intensified with the row over a cartoon by The Australian’s Bill Leak, which depicted an Aboriginal father not remembering his son’s name. The cartoon was the subject of a complaint to the Human Rights Commission under 18C, and is now being investigated.

There is also a high-profile case involving three white students at Queensland University of Technology who were ejected by a staff member from an indigenous-only computer room, and later wrote allegedly offensive posts about it. Using 18C, action was launched against them by the staff member.

Smith this week urged that the debate involving senators be broadened to encompass members of the House of Representatives as well as the general community.

While Turnbull, speaking on Melbourne’s 3AW, repeated his standard position that the government had “no plans to amend 18C”, his raising of Smith’s proposal and his willingness to countenance an inquiry will be seen as representing some movement on his part.

He said there were a lot of people talking at cross-purposes because “you can talk about amending 18C – the real issue is, how do you amend it?”

Smith had made the argument “and I think it is a reasonable one that there should be an open, if you like, calm, cool discussion of the issues relating to this.”

It was a contentious area, he said. “The questions are these: should there be a prohibition against insulting or offending somebody?” The crux was whether the bar was too low: “nobody is suggesting we should have any tolerance for hate speech or language that promotes racial hatred”, Turnbull said.

Asked about Leak, Turnbull said that of course Leak was not a racist. “He’s an Australian, he’s a cartoonist, he’s … a controversialist. … He’s a very colourful, passionate Australian of enormous artistic ability”.

Turnbull pointed to the joint committee on human rights as the appropriate committee if there was a parliamentary inquiry. It is chaired by WA Liberal Ian Goodenough.

Goodenough said on Friday that if Turnbull referred the matter to the committee, it would be happy to undertake the inquiry.

He personally was in favour of removing the words insult and offend, he told The Conversation. The recent cases had indicated that perhaps the section was being taken too far:

“The original intent was to prevent harm or serious detriment to racial minorities. Insult and offend may be a step too far – too petty an offence. There should be other ways of dealing with insulting or offending than through a legal approach”, Goodenough said.

Authors: Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

Read more http://theconversation.com/turnbull-sympathetic-to-parliamentary-inquiry-on-18c-67855

Writers Wanted

Physical Therapist Talks About This New Massage Gun On The Block - The HYDRAGUN

arrow_forward

Too much information: the COVID work revolution has increased digital overload

arrow_forward

Ammonite: the remarkable real science of Mary Anning and her fossils

arrow_forward

The Conversation
INTERWEBS DIGITAL AGENCY

Politics

Prime Minister's Remarks to Joint Party Room

PRIME MINISTER: Well, it is great to be back in the party room, the joint party room. It’s great to have everybody back here. It’s great to officially welcome Garth who joins us. Welcome, Garth...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Ben Fordham, 2GB

BEN FORDHAM: Scott Morrison, good morning to you.    PRIME MINISTER: Good morning, Ben. How are you?    FORDHAM: Good. How many days have you got to go?   PRIME MINISTER: I've got another we...

Scott Morrison - avatar Scott Morrison

Prime Minister Interview with Kieran Gilbert, Sky News

KIERAN GILBERT: Kieran Gilbert here with you and the Prime Minister joins me. Prime Minister, thanks so much for your time.  PRIME MINISTER: G'day Kieran.  GILBERT: An assumption a vaccine is ...

Daily Bulletin - avatar Daily Bulletin

Business News

Getting Ready to Code? These Popular and Easy Programming Languages Can Get You Started

According to HOLP (History Encyclopedia of Programing Languages), there are more than 8,000 programming languages, some dating as far back as the 18th century. Although there might be as many pr...

News Co - avatar News Co

Avoid These Mistakes When Changing up Your Executive Career

Switching up industries is a valid move at any stage in your career, even if you’re an executive. Doing so at this stage can be a lot more intimidating, however, and it can be quite difficult know...

News Co - avatar News Co

4 Costly Mistake To Avoid When Subdividing Your Property

As a property developer or landowner, the first step in developing your land is subdividing it. You subdivide the property into several lots that you either rent, sell or award to shareholders. ...

News Co - avatar News Co



News Co Media Group

Content & Technology Connecting Global Audiences

More Information - Less Opinion