Senator Brandis has written that the reasonable likelihood of “offending or insulting" people on the grounds of race or ethnicity "grotesquely" restricts freedom of expression. His agenda seems to be to weaken the Racial Discrimination Act. As three citizens living on the South Coast of NSW we (Bill Moyle, Gerry Moore, Peter Botsman) wish to respectfully take issue with Senator Brandis and warn against any watering down of the already timid protections against racial discrimination in Australia.

 The Labor Party’s attempts to criminalise racial vilification failed in 1974, 1992 and 1994. Labour’s failures were not mere politicking their legislative efforts were designed to honour Australia’s obligations under the International Covenant on All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD). Any weakening of the present law by any government would be intolerable. If anything, the sanctions against speech that is based on or incites racial contempt or hostility should be strengthened by making it a criminal offence.[2]

Under the existing Part ll A of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, speech based on race or ethnicity would not be unlawful if it were made reasonably and in good faith. Courts have made it clear that under this test speech insulting or offending  an individual or a group on the grounds of race and ethnicity would be unlawful if it combined erroneous facts, distortions of the truth and provocative and inflammatory language; and if the effects of that speech were likely to be serious and profound.


[1] Senator George Brandis 2014, "The  recovery of liberty", The Australian, 20 March 2014

[2] See Article 4 of the International Convention on All Forms of Racioal Discrimination (CERD) attached


For more please download the file below. This paper is a free download until 1pm EST 24 March 2014. It will be discussed on the Sandy Dann Radio Show, Goolarri Radio, Broome at 11am WST on Monday 24 March 2014.