We have two contrasting opinions on section 18C in today’s Australian. One in favour of repeal or substantive amendment by Nick Cater, and the other opposed to any change by Jeremy Jones (the director of international and community affairs at the Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council).
If Jones reads the Cat, he will realise that its writers are among the strongest supporters of the State of Israel and are strongly opposed to racism and antisemitism.
Yet I, and many others here at the Cat, are strongly opposed to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
I don’t want to repeat the numerous arguments eruditely argued elsewhere. There is only one point I’d like to make.
When Jones states that there is racism in Australia he is correct. All countries have racism and racist elements. In my view, having lived overseas in a number of countries, there is a relatively low level of racism in Australia.
Yet Australia is unique in having a provision such as section 18C. There are some anti-hate speech laws in Germany (reflecting its Nazi past), but these provisions are not found in much of the rest of the world.
So I ask Mr Jones:
- do you think that Australians are, on average, more racist than people living in other countries?
- if not, why should we apply an anti-free speech provision such as 18C?
- do you propose that other countries copy the provision?
- do you really believe that a provision like 18C actually reduces racism – if so, why do we still have racism when the provision was introduced in the 1990s?
- would you concede that the provision might actually promote racism by pushing it underground and making it more fashionable?
There is only one way to combat racism. That is for people from different races to live together, interact and learn that they are fundamentally trustworthy. Provisions such as 18C, and the positive discrimination provisions such as for Indigenous Australians do not reduce racism, if anything they can act to increase racism. If we provided support to the most disadvantaged Australians irrespective of race that would be a much better approach than giving benefits to elite, wealthy and privileged Indigenous Australians.