Race hate law changes opposed

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram Representatives of the Indigenous, Greek, Jewish, Chinese, Arab and Korean communities met this week in Canberra with more than 80 members of the Federal Parliament from the Coalition, Labor, Greens and Independents in order to express their strong opposition to the government’s plans to weaken the existing Federal law against racial vilification.Amongst others they met the Leader of the Federal Opposition Bill Shorten, his Deputy Tanya Plibersek, the Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus, Labor parliamentarians Anthony Albanese and Maria Vamvakinou, Senators Richard Di Natale from the Greens, ALP Senate leader Penny Wong, Phillip Ruddock, Arthur Sinodinos and other Liberal parliamentarians, as well as SA Independent Senator Nick Xenophon. Due to other commitments, Attorney-General George Brandis did not meet the delegation of the community groups.“We were pleasantly surprised by the statements of support we received across the party political divide in favour of leaving the existing law as it is”, said George Vellis. co-ordinator of the Australian Hellenic Council.“If anything, the opposition that was expressed to the government’s proposals was even stronger than we heard previously. Most of the Coalition MPs we met with expressed disapproval of the government’s exposure draft to change the legislation, and voiced deep misgivings about the government’s entire approach to this issue.”It is understood that the government received more than 5,300 submissions from the public in response to its exposure draft, almost all of which were strongly critical of it.“With the exception of any submissions that were made in confidence, all of these submissions should be made available to the public on the Attorney-General’s website in the interests of having an informed and open debate,” George Vellis concluded.The Leader of the Opposition Bill Shorten, after his meeting with representatives of the various community groups, reiterated again his rejection of the proposed changes of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and called upon Prime Minister Tony Abbott and Attorney-General George Brandis to abandon altogether their plans to open the door to racism, as he said.“Ethnic community groups have told Tony Abbott they oppose the weakening of legal protections against racism and he must abandon his plans immediately”, said the Labor leader. The community groups that were represented in Canberra this week were the National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples, the Arab Council Australia, the Chinese Australian Services Society, the Korean Society of Sydney, the Cypriot Society of NSW, the Australian Hellenic Council, the Chinese Australian Forum, and the Council of Australian Jewry.According to Fairfax Media, Attorney-General George Brandis is working on a further winding back of his proposed law changes, due to an effective grassroots community campaign.His expected move will come after an original back down in March, when he was forced by cabinet to soften his original plans. This has come as a result of protests by the community and by Coalition MPs in marginal seats with a substantial presence of ethnic communities. last_img