The failure by the Coalition-dominated parliamentary review to recommend changes to Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is another sign that the political class is yet to learn the lessons of the electoral shocks of 2016.
To add injury to insult, Coalition members of the review appear to have caved in to a coordinated campaign by the taxpayer-funded multicultural industry.
The review was swamped by more than 12,000 submissions, many of which were from ethnic organisations that claimed that changes to Section 18C would unleash racist hate speech against ethnic communities.
The notion that we cannot risk any changes to Section 18C is based on the idea that Australia always has been and always will be a fundamentally racist country, and on the idea that the legislative restrictions on ‘hate speech’ is the only thing keeping the country civil.
This gets our history hopelessly wrong. The Racial Discrimination Act was legislated in 1975 – after the scrapping of the White Australia Policy and the creation of our non-racially discriminatory immigration policy.
We opened our doors to all comers because the success of the post-WWII immigration program proved that Australians could get on well and without social strife with immigrants from diverse backgrounds.
President Trump’s election victory, the Yes vote for Leave in the UK Brexit referendum, and the re-emergence of One Nation as at last July’s federal election, showed that the tide has turned against the politically correct idea that certain topics should not be publically discussed because ordinary people are incapable of discussing them in a civilised way.
The political revolt by voters included rejecting being scolded as ‘racist’ by so-called elites for wishing to debate legitimate issues, such as the size and character of immigration programs or the impact of Islam in a modern western nations.
The democratic principle of freedom of speech has been sacrificed by the federal politicians refusing to support the abolition of the anti-free speech provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act, which allows people to sue for hurt feelings if they don’t like what someone else has to say.
Decent Australians have a right to be angry about the use of their taxes to not only tell them to shut up but also to portray them as racists who must be muzzled for the sake of social harmony.
Our core belief that all Australians, regardless of caste, colour, and creed, should receive a fair go is what has made Australia the harmonious multi-racial society it is today – not the threat of legal action under the Racial Discrimination Act.
Australian politicians who have not learned the lessons of Trump and Brexit are repeating them. The parliamentary review’s support for muzzling ‘racist’ Australians, and its endorsement of the multicultural industry’s divisive disdain for ordinary Australians, will simply drive more voters into the arms of One Nation.
Jeremy Sammut is a Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for Independent Studies.
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