Wednesday, 21 March 2018
International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination
At the request of Senator Singh, I move:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) 21 March 2018 is the International Day of Elimination of Racial Discrimination, and
(ii) although Australia has implemented the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination into its domestic law through the Racial Discrimination Act, racially discriminatory provisions remain in the Australian Constitution and there is still no entrenched provision for fundamental rights in Australian law;
(b) further notes that:
(i) the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination observes that expressions of racism, racial discrimination and xenophobia, including in the Australian public sphere, political debates and in the media, are on the rise, and
(ii) according to the Face Up to Racism: 2015-16 National Survey:
(A) nearly a quarter of participants had experienced racism on public transport or in the street, and
(B) nearly a third of participants had experienced racism in the workplace or within an educational institution; and
(c) urges the Australian Government to act on the recommendations – including strengthening anti-racism programs like the National Anti-Racism Strategy, and underlining the importance of political discourse and the Racial Discrimination Act in setting a standard – in the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination's concluding observations on the eighteenth to twentieth periodic reports of Australia.
The government rejects the connotation underlying the motion, which is that the government is in any way supportive of racial discrimination. The government does not support racial discrimination. There are a broad range of legislative protections and processes to protect people from racial discrimination. The number of complaints made to the Australian Human Rights Commission under the Racial Discrimination Act decreased by 42 per cent in the first half of this financial year, compared with the same period last financial year. The government will continue to uphold the broad protections against racial discrimination in Australian law.
Question agreed to.