Ethnic leaders oppose weaker anti-racism law

The only Indigenous MP in the federal government’s caucus has threatened to cross the floor if Attorney-General George Brandis’s plan to water down anti-racism laws goes too far. He joins representatives of the Indigenous, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Arab, Armenian and Korean communities, who said the proposals were “morally repugnant”. The government’s move is in response to a Federal Court finding that Andrew Bolt breached section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth). In a series of articles, Bolt questioned whether “fair-skinned Aboriginal people … are sufficiently of Aboriginal race, colour or ethnicity to be identifying as Aboriginal”, and this “offend[ed], insult[ed], intidimidate[d] or humiliate[d]” Aboriginal people. He could not rely on the “free speech” defence in section 18D because his reports were “erroneous”, “mocking and derisive”, and were therefore not published “reasonably and in good faith”. Press reports suggest the government is proposing to amend both sections 18C and 18D. The Australian Human Rights Commission has published an explanation of how the laws currently work, with case examples.