Act now and send your submission in by tomorrow!

RDA 1975 2

On 25 March 2014, the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon George Brandis QC, released an exposure draft Bill on the proposed amendments to the Racial discrimnation Act 1975 Section 18C, Section 18D. The Attorney-General has called for submissions on the draft by 30 April 2014.

Submissions received will be considered by the government in the process of finalising the amendments.

Submissions can be emailed to s18cconsultation@ag.gov.au or sent to:
Human Rights Policy Branch
Attorney-General’s Department
3–5 National Circuit
BARTON ACT 2600

Submissions will not be made public without consent from the author. Personal information will be collected for the purposes of verifying submissions are not duplicates and in providing advice to government. Please advise if you wish to remain anonymous or wish to use a pseudonym when sending your submission.

Please follow the link to read more about the proposed changes to the current Racial Discrimination Act 1975: http://www.ag.gov.au/Consultations/Pages/ConsultationsonamendmentstotheRacialDiscriminationAct1975.aspx

 

The Indian community is strongly reacting to the proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 and is vehemently opposed to amendments being considered by the Australian government. Since the last date for submission is tomorrow (30th April 2014) it is advisable that Indian organisations, individuals and various Indian bodies send as many submissions they can, no matter even if it is a few words. Changes to the existing Act may make life difficult for us Indians here as still many negative stereotypes exist in relation to the Indian community and may give some people the right to say things that can be racially hurtful starting with Mr George Brandis, Attorney General, himself who was quoted as saying that “bigots have the right of speech”.

Please email submissions to: s18cconsultation@ag.gov.au

Here are some members of the community and what they have said:

Sanjeev Bhakri, Secretary Hindu Council of Australia:

“Hindu Council of Australia strongly believe that these amendments are unnecessary and should not be done. The existing sections of the Act does not put any undue limitation on the rights of free speech as long as it is factual and made in public interest.

The two new sections added are not clear enough and may be used in wrong way. We submit that Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 should be retained in its current form in order for our culturally diverse society to function in harmony respecting the rule of law. If anything in the form of changes contemplated, they should be to further strengthen the current provisions in the Act.”

Shubha Kumar, President, India club: 

“The members, at our IC Get together on 13th April 2014, discussed and voiced concerns against the proposed changes to the federal Racial Discrimination Act, released by the government in an exposure draft.

The current RDA makes racial discrimination unlawful in Australia. The Racial Discrimination Act 1975 was passed by the Australian Parliament. Discrimination occurs under the RDA when someone is treated less fairly than someone else in a similar situation because of race, color, descent or national or ethnic origin. The current RDA has served the Australian community well over 20 years.

As we understand, the proposed Government changes threaten the harmony of community and wellbeing of Australians of diverse backgrounds. These changes are of such great concern in the cohesive multicultural Australian society that most progressive organizations and prominent individuals from all walks of life, including some Liberal parliamentarians are opposed to the changes.

India Club has expressed opposition to any such changes to the RDA section 18 that could weaken protections against racially charged attitudes, stimulating conflict, resentment or hatred in our civilized society.”

Sant Ram Bajaj (President), Australian Hindi Indian Association: 
“Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is a well thought-out piece of legislation that is designed to protect Australians from hateful comments, vilification and intimidation because of their colour, and their racial and ethnic background.
Freedom of speech is an important right. However, no one should be allowed to incite hatred against another person in the name of the freedom of speech.
Australian Hindi Indian Association (AHIA) believes that the suggested amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act are likely to lead to an increase in racial abuse and may also lead to an increase in vilification based on race and ethnic background.
AHIA strongly opposes the amendment to the Racial Discrimination Act and urges the Federal Government to withdraw the Act designed to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.”

Vish Viswanathan, Federation of Indian Association, Australia:

18C – LET US REACT NOW BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

“It may appear that the proposed changes by the Federal Government to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 – specifically in regards to sections 18C, 18D and 18D are simple and it may not affect our Indian community. But there is a clear danger in the offing that such changes if endorsed by the Australian Parliament will encourage some elements of the wider community to possibly misuse in the name of Freedom of Speech and get away easily unless legally challenged. In reality there is no need for Federal Government to hurry such changes which at the moment protect . Hence let us voice our concerns stating our objections to the above proposed changes to 18C, 18D and 18E before the deadline 30 April 2014 by emailing to: s18cconsultation@ag.gov.au

Needless to say the voice of the Indian Community needs to be heard NOW before it is too late.

Dr Yadu Singh, Cardiologist:

“Three points are very disturbing.
1. This proposed legislation really would allow for almost any racist speech you can imagine. Any “public discussion of any political, social, cultural (or) religious, artistic, academic or scientific” matter will be exempt, irrespective of its seriousness and intentions. Basically, every racial abuse can be exempt under the proposed legislation. There is no limit here.

2. Whether something is “reasonably likely” to vilify is “to be determined by the standards of an ordinary reasonable member of the Australian community”, “not by the standards of any particular group within the Australian community.” That means that the vilification will not be judged by the standard of whatever racial minority is being vilified. Instead, the ordinary reasonable Australian, meaning thereby White Anglo-Saxon Australians, will decide whether the minority groups are racially vilified or not.

If we have to trust “Ordinary reasonable Australians” to decide what we should think or find racially vilifying, we may end up in serious troubles. You do not have to go too far. Just go to the comments column of any newspaper to have the taste of what some of the “Ordinary reasonable Australians” think about minorities. You will find that plenty of members of “ordinary reasonable Australians” are good at telling people from minority racial groups what they should and shouldn’t find racist, without having an idea of what is right or wrong in racial vilification sense.

3. There is more. This is in regards to the proposed offence of racial “intimidation”. To “intimidate” is “to cause fear of physical harm” according to the Exposure draft. Who decides whether a member of a minority racial group should have a “reasonably likely” chance of feeling “fear of physical harm?” Obviously, that too will be decided for them by someone else, not themselves. That is plainly unacceptable, grotesque and wrong.

Australia is a success story of multiculturalism, where almost half the population was either born overseas or has a parent who was born overseas.

This is in danger, if section 18C and 18D are tampered with, repealed or diluted.”

Mrs Mala Mehta, Co-Ordinator, Indo-Aus Bal Bharti Vidyalaya, Thornleigh West Public School:

“These changes would shield and privilege behaviour which promotes conflict, resentment or hatred between people and enshrine what the Attorney-General, Senator George Brandis, has called the “right to be a bigot.”

I believe that no one should have the right to abuse or threaten others with racially charged language.

Australia is a richer and more socially cohesive society for the variety of cultures, races and ethnicities who call it home. These changes threaten the harmony of our community and the wellbeing of Australians of diverse backgrounds. The Government’s proposal is an overreaction to a single court case and some ethnic community groups have already announced their opposition to these changes.”

Bawa Singh Jagdev OAM, Secretary, For and on behalf of the National Sikh Council Of Australia:

“National Sikh Council firmly  believes that  it should continue to be unlawful to “offend, insult or humiliate” based on race or ethnicity and the act should not be amended.”

 

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Posted by on Apr 29 2014. Filed under Australian News, Community, Featured. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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