- Here is the proposed legislation. I know you haven’t read it. Read it before saying anything more about it, please.
- Here is the original Section 18C in the act. Yes, you don’t know what the original act says. Read this too.
- Greens once objected to ‘offence’ as being too low of a bar for being against the law. That is, they opposed part of the law Brandis is repealing.
- The proposed amendments adds ‘vilify’ to the act, which is good. It has a couple of defined legal meanings in states in Australia.
- The amendments also remove the ‘good faith’ provisions in section 18D and has been replaced with the following, which means basically any incitement of hatred (including intimidation) is allowed: “This section does not apply to words, sounds, images or writing spoken, broadcast, published or otherwise communicated in the course of participating in the public discussion of any political, social, cultural, religious, artistic, academic or scientific matter” The President of the Human Rights Commission had a good talk with Tony Jones about this.
- The amendments say that requirement for ‘vilification’ “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”. It means that if your vilification is socially acceptable by the majority of Australians, it doesn’t count as vilification. So the average white person decides if someone from a minority has been vilified.
Conclusion: these amendments are bad. I would probably side with the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity commissioner in 1991 in saying the ‘offence’ and ‘insult’ should not be prohibited by the law. But these amendments in their current form basically make any sort of incitement of racial violence or hatred legal. Ironically, I don’t believe that Brandis intended to make inciting racial violence legal, but the amendments are so poorly written that this is the likely consequence. While it can be said that the Liberals went to the election promising to repeal section 18c, the Brandis amendments significantly change 18D as well, for which the government cannot claim to have a mandate.