As someone who worked on the community consultation in the early 1990s for the racial vilification legislation, I rise today to stand against this government's attack on race hate speech protections in the Racial Discrimination Act. Following the shocking and tragic murder of Curtis Cheng in Parramatta, the Prime Minister moved to unite Australia, labelling us the most successful multicultural nation in the world—and I agree, we are.
But, while he was saying that, the Prime Minister was at the same time facing a split in his own party as a number of Liberal senators, including one from Canberra, backed a bill to water down section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Continued Liberal support for this divisive bill defies the Prime Minister's commitment to an inclusive Australia. The Prime Minister must lead on this issue and show he is truly committed to a respectful inclusive, multicultural nation.
Watering down 18C sends the wrong message to Australia's multicultural communities and to all Australians. That is why I have launched a petition calling on the government to abandon its plan to remove and water down the current protections under 18C. 18C has served this nation well for more than 20 years. It has not impacted on freedom of speech. 18C protects Australians against the worst cases of racial vilification and worst cases of race hate speech and it must remain.