28 February 2017

The committee examining freedom of speech in Australia has decided against changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, a move welcomed by local MP Madeleine King who also sat on the committee.

Following weeks of hearings and submissions to the hastily convened Joint Standing Committee on Human Rights enquiry, Ms King said people’s efforts to show how important sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act were had paid off.

“I welcome this outcome, the result of which is thanks to the Australian public demonstrating to the Committee that it does not support a weakening of our laws against hate speech,” Ms King said.

“The committee heard from individuals and groups from many different walks of life and by far the overwhelming weight of the submissions were against altering the Racial Discrimination Act.

“This is in stark contrast to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s Coalition government’s efforts to do just this.”

Ms King said sections 18C and 18D of the Act were important protections against hate speech and should remain unchanged.

“I’ve never felt the sting of racism. I’ve never felt restrained in my freedom of speech. I’ve never decided to keep quiet every day at work or at school or at university because of a fear of being a target for hateful or hurtful words,” she said.

“However, many Australians do face these burdens and it is my opinion that it is not in anyone’s interest, and it is certainly not in the national interest, to amend the Racial Discrimination Act to weaken protections against hate.”