Senate debates

Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Questions without Notice

Racial Discrimination Act 1975

2:29 pm

Photo of George BrandisGeorge Brandis (Queensland, Liberal Party, Attorney-General) Share this | Hansard source

Senator Peris, you are going to have to stop basing your questions on false premises, because we are not weakening the Racial Discrimination Act. We are strengthening the Racial Discrimination Act by focusing it on the central vice of racism—that is, racial vilification. Might I remind you, Senator Peris—I did tell you this yesterday, but you seem to have forgotten—that today there is no law of the Commonwealth of Australia that prohibits racial vilification. Not one. This is a tremendous gap at the heart of the Racial Discrimination Act. Rather, the Racial Discrimination Act uses the inappropriate mechanism of political censorship to stop people expressing opinions.

We do not think that is the way to deal with the problem of racism, Senator Peris. We think that the way to deal with the problem of racism is to identify the two great issues that characterise the worse form of racist conduct—that is, vilification, which is not currently dealt with; and intimidation, which is currently not adequately dealt with—and focus the operation of the act upon them.

I am asked about Dr Rubenstein—


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