Getting there in the end

Malcolm Turnbull has been making things hard for himself. As I indicated six months ago:

Other Liberals, like RMIT economist and right-wing blogger Sinclair Davidson, are also eager for Turnbull to take up the cause championed by Senator Cory Bernardi and end the legal prohibition on racially or religiously abusive language.

“Simply refusing to budge on 18c of the RDA [Racial Discrimination Act] is not a viable policy (it will distract the government) and an inquiry into ABC bias and error should be undertaken too.”

Changing the law would be celebrated by conservative free-speech advocates like newspaper commentator Andrew Bolt and Institute of Public Affairs head John Roskam. Former Treasury secretary and Nationals senator John Stone believes it would “heal the split within his party” and therefore enhance Mr Turnbull’s political authority.

In the meantime six months have been lost.

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53 Responses to Getting there in the end

  1. Andore Jr.

    Why do journalists set the bar so low for admission to the ‘right wing blogger’ club?

  2. Muddy

    We’re assuming this has been set up to succeed?

  3. Cui bono

    MT should have reformed 18c in his first two months as PM. Might have gone a long way in uniting the party.

  4. A Lurker

    In the spirit of Mick Dundee we need a full repeal of S18C, not some faffing about at the edges.

  5. Herodotus

    The ABC will be cringing and hiding when Malcolm’s pick for Chairman arrives. No, not really. Justin Milne is MYOB CEO and I suspect has similar views to those of the current ABC collective. Being one of those Business Luminaries who tried to brow-beat Turnbull into capitulating on SSM is hardly a recommendation as someone to combat or reform the daily meme-athon that is their ABC.

  6. struth

    Changing the law would be celebrated by conservative free-speech advocates like newspaper commentator Andrew Bolt and Institute of Public Affairs head John Roskam. Former Treasury secretary and Nationals senator John Stone believes it would “heal the split within his party” and therefore enhance Mr Turnbull’s political authority.

    No mention of the millions of right wing people throughout Australia, and how they’d feel.
    Or that it is essential to democracy and freedom, which cannot exist without it.
    Sinclair knows what I just said is true, but that’s not where his head space is.
    Focussing too much on his elitist pals, he misses an attempt to focus on what the issue is really all about.
    The fact remains that Malcom was a leftist before he came to office and yet Sinclair supported him.
    Thank god I haven’t been dumbed down in a university.

  7. .

    So you knew in advance Turnbull wouldn’t do it?

    Great, you could have told us about Abbott too.

  8. stackja

    Does MT really want to change 18C? His electorate houses a large J lobby.

  9. Bruce of Newcastle

    It is a damning criticism that Turnbull is only moving on such things because if he doesn’t he will destroy his own party. Conservatives are willing to walk, and increasingly have been doing so. That’s the problem – his beliefs are lefty, on stupid stuff like SSM, the RDA and climate crap. The RET has hit the fan and has now caught him with his pants around his ankles. Unwillingly like the cat being dragged to the bath he’s doing stuff he hates only because he hates the alternative even more.

    Time for a new Liberal leader who actually believes what he says. Voters can tell.

  10. Driftforge

    In the spirit of Mick Dundee we need a full repeal of S18C, not some faffing about at the edges.

    What we need is a full repeal of the whole bloody act. #18C is faffing about at the edges.

  11. Penguinte

    Why has our “Dear Leader” disabled his Parliamentary Contact form? Messages cannot be submitted without an address but that operation has been deleted? I smell fear

  12. harry buttle

    Wrong again Sinclair, it is way too late for the waffler to have a come to jesus moment, he blew it comprehensively and will not be accepted by conservatives as a possible leader, throw in the fact that the leftist who love him will all vote green, the next election will be a disaster for the party if the waffler isn’t knifed ASAP.
    You may not remember all those conservatives who “have nowhere else to go”, we remember.

  13. Rabz

    has been making things hard for himself

    Yes, clueless blundering buffoons have a habit of doing that.

  14. struth

    18c
    The spineless Liberal party, pulled kicking and screaming from their socialist garden party to pay lip service to those pesky Textorites.
    Only the bare minimum will be done to save professional face when smoozing the U.N. for their next international position.
    A complete breakdown of the party won’t look good on Malcom’s CV.
    However, losing the election is a prerequisite for entry into stasi headquarters.

  15. John Bendall

    You better get this right MT. It could be your last chance!

  16. Art Vandelay

    How courageous:

    Malcolm Turnbull has struck a compromise deal for historic changes to section 18C of the ­Racial Discrimination Act that is expected to retain the offences of humiliate and intimidate on the grounds of race, but abolish ­“insult” and “offend” in favour of a new higher test of “harass”.

    The Liberal Party is filled with snivelling cowards and socialists. They should all be tarred and feathered.

  17. Ray

    18C is not and never has been the problem.

    The QUT students, or some of them at any rate, went to court and won. In other words, they were never in breach of the Racial Discrimination Act, 18C or any other clause for that matter. Yet that did not stop an activist Human Rights Commission from abusing its power.

    Indeed, Section 26 of the Racial Discrimination Act states clearly that breaching 18C or any other provision of the act is not illegal.

    The real problem is the power of the Human Rights Commission, particularly the authority granted under Sections 46PI to 46PN which gives the Human Rights Commissioner extraordinary power to compel respondents to produce documents, give evidence and to attend conferences. All of which imposes a cost on the respondent in terms of both time and legal representation. Indeed, providing false or misleading information to the Human Rights Commission is punishable by up to 6 months in prison.

    I am not against amending 18C, but unless we severely clip the wings of the activists at the Human Rights Commission, then nothing will be gained.

  18. Tintarella di Luna

    What we need is a full repeal of the whole bloody act. #18C is faffing about at the edges.

    Yes and yes

  19. Herodotus

    Ray, Bolt’s case didn’t involve the HRC.

  20. Malcolm

    Sinc is no right wing blogger. He doesn’t like Donald Trump hence he is a communist

  21. Diogenes

    I must be tired – I read the headline as “You’re getting it in the end”.

  22. Nov

    This change is worse than doing nothing. By substituting “harass”, it retains the debate-killing function, while allowing for the “re-education” of those like the QUT students. And lets the left pretend that they aren’t still enforcing their group-think.

  23. Ray

    Herodotus, you are correct but I think you miss the point. I am not against amending 18C, however, this does not protect against a quasi judicial body which goes feral, using its extraordinary powers and financial backing to pursue individuals for damages.

    The Human Rights Commission had no right under either the Human Rights Commission Act or the Racial Discrimination Act to pursue the QUT students or Bill Leek. Yet that did not stop them. In this context, amending or even repealing 18C will not have any impact unless the Human Rights Commission is prevented from acting as a star chamber.

    In other words, a Human Rights Commission which conveniently neglects its obligations under the rule of law is a far greater danger than the risks under 18C.

    Back to the Bolt case, it is worth noting that Andrew Bolt was sued for an unlawful act under the Racial Discrimination Act and not illegal act. That means he was liable for a civil case rather than a criminal prosecution. The problem posed by the Human Rights Commission Act is that it effectively turns the unlawful nature of a breach under 18C into an illegal act which then magnifies the problems for any respondent.

  24. Jannie

    Turnbull reluctantly trying to get back support from the people he doesn’t really want anyway.

    Too little, too late.

  25. .

    Back to the Bolt case, it is worth noting that Andrew Bolt was sued for an unlawful act under the Racial Discrimination Act and not illegal act. That means he was liable for a civil case rather than a criminal prosecution. The problem posed by the Human Rights Commission Act is that it effectively turns the unlawful nature of a breach under 18C into an illegal act which then magnifies the problems for any respondent.

    Exactly. The government ordering civil proceedings or “civil penalties” is wicked and pernicious. Civil disobedience becomes a justice offence, which are treated harshly.

  26. Philippa Martyr

    Yerrrrrs, well, my heart softened momentarily towards you, Doomlord, when I saw that Vera Lynn clip.

    I thought to myself:

    ‘Awww, he is really just a big softy. This will go a long way towards me forgiving him as he makes The Long Walk Back from his utterly unforgiveable support of the TURNCOAT™ government, who rolled a sitting Prime Minister for no good reason other than that Truffles wanted the job, and Truffles was a vindictive and white-anting shit.
    ‘And then they managed to lose that massive majority and end up clinging by one seat and their fingernails, all thanks to Truffles’ masterly inactivity and noblesse oblige for months.
    ‘And then we look at the list of criteria for Potential Greatness,™ and we come to the inescapable conclusion that Truffles has failed categorically to achieve even a faint ray of Greatness in a pitch-dark world.’

    And then you go and do a thing like this.

  27. Philippa Martyr

    I must be tired – I read the headline as “You’re getting it in the end”.

    Same diff.

  28. gbees

    “In the meantime six months have been lost.”

    And Lord Waffler squibbed it with a watered down 18C rather than a complete scrapping. I understand the Senate wouldn’t pass that but it would have been far better to try to get it through and have it fail then put it up as an issue for next election.

  29. notafan

    I am not against amending 18C, but unless we severely clip the wings of the activists at the Human Rights Commission, then nothing will be gained.

    yep as as long as they have any words that give them power over the ‘wrong sort of people’ they will use them

  30. Philippa Martyr

    From Nikki Savva’s column tomorrow:

    Right-wing blogger Sinclair Davidson should do the decent thing and disappear into the sunset. Before he goes, before whatever remains of his reputation is obliterated, he should issue a heartfelt apology to the Prime Minister for his appalling lack of public support on his Catallaxy Files blog.

    What appears to be vengeful behaviour by Davidson has confirmed in the Prime Minister’s mind that he was right not to offer him pre-selection for a safe Liberal seat in return for favourable media comment. Davidson’s decision to publicly comment unfavourably on the Prime Minister’s track record is indicative of covert links with Tony Abbott, who is known for manipulating media attention to blacken the Prime Minister’s reputation unjustly.

    Davidson’s rank betrayal of the man who has shown him nothing but tolerance, patience, warm understanding handshakes, wise nods of the head, and absence of any actual comment committing him to anything, is nothing short of perfidy.

    It is a scorched-earth policy from someone whose concept of leadership fails to take in the things that really matter in a leader: ruthlessness, extinction of one’s enemies in Cabinet, and public selfies.

    Davidson’s own record on this matter is disgraceful. Having initially and publicly thrown his support behind the Prime Minister, he has subsequently had a change of heart and now offers at best lukewarm recommendations.

    Leaving aside the obvious pressure under which Davidson has been forced to bow – pressure applied from the swivel-eyed del-cons and other right-wing conspiracy theorists on his blog – he could have at any time turned to the Prime Minister’s office for moral support. Malcolm Turnbull has expressed his willingness to appear in a selfie with Sinclair Davidson at any time, which is more than Davidson deserves for his tepid commentary.

    So spare me the lectures, Professor Davidson. I am only concerned about those who arrived, relatively speaking, a matter of minutes ago, who won something very precious, then destroyed it in record time. I speak naturally of Malcolm Turnbull, whose jettisoning of worthless Liberal seats in the last election was a masterstroke, reducing the Liberals to the lean fighting machine they were meant to be. Turnbull is the true heir of Menzies in this respect, as in all others.

  31. Joe

    yep as as long as they have any words that give them power over the ‘wrong sort of people’ they will use them

    OK. Add the following in the amendment.

    “Complaints brought by white males will ALWAYS be prosecuted to the full extent of the commissions power.”

  32. meher baba

    “Does MT really want to change 18C? His electorate houses a large J lobby.”

    I think this is a really important point.

    The Australian Jewish community, which has traditionally been somewhat closer to Labor than to the Libs, is in the process of shifting across the political divide. Driven by an unholy alliance between the anti-American/anti-Israel hard left and a more centrist group (including Bob Carr) who wish to secure the votes of the ever-growing Muslim community, Labor is about to cut the Jewish community permanently adrift by making the recognition of Palestine a party policy.

    Meanwhile, Josh Frydenberg has become the highest-achieving Jewish politician on the right side of the political fence, attracting a great deal of financial and moral support to the Coalition from Melbourne’s Jewish community. And, as you suggest, Turnbull himself is the MP for an electorate which holds the lion’s share of Sydney’s Jewish population.

    It’s therefore not an especially great time for the Libs to do something to upset their new-found friends in the Jewish community. And it does seem that that particular community is firmly lined up behind the current wording and interpretation of 18C.

    I think that echoes of past and present anti-semitism underpin this debate to a significant extent. If you read the judgement on the Bolt case by Justice Mordy Bromberg (dear to my heart as a former St Kilda player, but perhaps not quite so much for his judicial work), you will see that a crucial point for him was the complainants under 18C – despite their predominantly middle class suburban life experiences – were completely entitled to present themselves as Aborigines by dint of their having been “brought up Aboriginal.” And that, therefore, Bolt’s questioning of their right to describe themselves as Aboriginal was offensive, hurtful, humiliating and intimidating.

    “Brought up Aboriginal” is arguably a pretty meaningless concept in the contemporary era, when tribal religious and cultural practices have largely ceased and the majority of Aborigines – even those living in remote communities — increasingly conduct their lives according to modern secular (or sometimes Christian or even Muslim ) norms.

    On the other hand, most people have a very clear understanding of what the concept of being “brought up Jewish” means: it’s a concept of being nurtured in a culturally-distinct environment that extends not only to religious Jews, but even in some ways to secular non-believing, highly assimilated, Jews. And we all understand the historical context of attacks on Jews on the basis of their ancestry, culture, etc.

    So the Jewish community feels the way it does about 18C on the basis of the past and current experiences of their brethren in other parts of the world. And thus changing 18C is a fraught issue purely on this basis alone, and partly goes to explain why Abbott, and now Turnbull, have been very cautious in their approach to an issue which is unlikely to be a game-changer outside of a constituency which is always likely to vote – or at least preference – the Coalition.

    As someone who has been “brought up Jewish” might say, “business is business.”

  33. King Koala

    So Trumble’s going to cuck out and make a song and dance while not actually scrapping 18c. I am shocked, shocked I tell you. This manchurian candidate is hell bent on destroying the Libs.

  34. Zyconoclast

    I must be tired – I read the headline as “You’re getting it in the end”.

    That’s on the SSM and/or S&M thread.

  35. Squirrel

    Better late than never, but given the likely outcome in the Senate, the safest option would be to see to it that the HRC is left, at best, with very few resources to enforce whatever wording is used in s.18C. There are so many better things to do with the money – starting with the debt.

  36. ArthurB

    Joe (4:06 pm): don’t you mean “complaints brought against white men will always be prosecuted …”

  37. politichix

    Clutching at straws Mr Davidson.

  38. politichix

    Philippa Martyr
    #2332852, posted on March 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm
    From Nikki Savva’s column tomorrow:

    Excellent!

  39. Mother Lode

    The imbecile is desperate.

    He may finally have twigged that sucking up to the left is not working. Pretty quick on the uptake, that man.

    Personally, I have no issue with motivation. Someone who is very talented doing the best things for Australia for purely selfish reasons is better than a well meaning idiot.

    It is just that Trumble is not at all talented.

  40. struth

    I used to know girls like Nikki Savva when I was younger.
    They’re the type that came running in pissed as maggots, throwing a hissy fit of foul language and scratching and kicking, to defend to the death their boyfriend, who regularly beat them up.

    You can’t talk sense to them.
    Malcom’s barking watch dog is a bitchy old poodle, isn’t she?

  41. Louis

    humiliate, intimidate, insult and offend

    Are all the same as far as the courts will use them as a test of application of the provision.

    And nothing short of repeal will stop the HRC from applying the provision as it suits it to push its agenda.

  42. Eddystone

    Philippa Martyr
    #2332852, posted on March 21, 2017 at 4:05 pm

    From Nikki Savva’s column tomorrow:

    You had be going for just a second there Philippa!

  43. Iampeter

    Did Turnbull ever promise to do anything re 18C?

    MT has always been a big gov lefty.

    Abbott was the real fraud here, trying to full everyone that he believed in small government But then proving to just be one of Australias most left-wing PM’s.

    And where is he now? Did he get thrown out of the Conservative movement that claims to not be leftist?

    Why no. He just launched a “manifesto” about taking Australia Right.

    Also as others have said, reforming 18C is just more fiddling around the margins – the entire HRC has to go – but Conservatives don’t have the ideological coherence to ever shrink government.

  44. Muddy

    Catictionary:
    Malspasm – the involuntary nervous twitching that takes place in a long-deceased political corpse as a result of the delayed release of gases and toxins stored within the testicular cavity. Malspasms often cause the corpse to appear ‘lifelike,’ however interaction with the carcass, even of a non-physical type, may in extreme cases, produce in the still living a fatal nostalgia-induced coma.

  45. King Koala

    Better late than never, but given the likely outcome in the Senate

    Trumble needs One Nation and Xenophon and a couple of others. One Nation, the CLP, the
    Lib Dem fella all will probably support it. If Trumble seriously wants this to pass I am sure he can find something to make a deal with Xenophon.

  46. Robber Baron

    The Government needs to make the case for the HRC and the RDA. If they can’t, then they should get rid of them.

  47. In the meantime six months and a very fine cartoonist have been lost.

    Fixed it.

  48. Motelier

    The problem is the Liberals.

    The LINOs want to be invited to all of those fun things the lefty politicians get invited to.

    The vote for the LINOs has been dropping for years except for the odd blip (see Abbott 2013 and Campbell 2012) where the electorate was willing to give the conservative side the vote.

    A failure to follow through on election promises (Abbott) and personal vendetta (Campbell) has made Labor appealling to the voteherd.

    A good conservatve politician needs to prosecute their policy, something that is now sadly lacking.

    I will not be surprised to Turncoat to flip flop about like a fish out of water when the blowtorch is turned on to a neutral flame.

    What could possibly go wrong?

  49. Sally

    If Malcolm succeeds and I truly hope he does how will this affect the state’s human rights government bodies and the draconian laws they have against free speech?

    I seem to remember the two pastors in Victoria, before the Bolt prosecution, were prosecuted under similar laws because the congregation laughed at passages from the Koran.

    I believe that ACT has particularly draconian laws to quiet politicians outside parliament.

    But let’s watch, I am not sure that Malcolm has the ticker for a full on fight, unless he has another $50 mil project tucked up his butt, ready to pull out to influence the Human Headline.

  50. Cynic of Ayr

    OK, so 18c is there, and if that was the only thing there, I doubt it would be too much trouble.
    The real problem, as I see it, is a Department dedicated to one law, and only one law.
    Where is the Department that exclusively touts for business for the law enforcing the wearing of seat belts? Oh yes, that’s adequately taken care of by a Department that covers a freaking lot of other laws.
    But this 18c law is prosecuted by one group of bastards, led by bastards (and decidedly distasteful, lying and ugly bastards at that) dedicated to one law.
    Leave the law alone, and get rid of the Human Rights Commission!!!!!
    When someone has their widdle bubby feelings hurt, and it costs the hurtee to pursue the hurter, then it might all go away!
    We are chasing the wrong quarry.

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