Essay on The Enactment Of The Racial Discrimination Act Of 1975

Essay on The Enactment Of The Racial Discrimination Act Of 1975

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The enactment of the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 heralded an historic shift in what was to be regarded as fair comment and race hate speech. Under this section of the act, racial vilification was no longer acceptable in a socially cohesive, multicultural society. However George Brandis, the Federal Attorney General, has argued that Section18C of the Racial Discrimination Act unjustifiably restricts the democratic principle of freedom of speech; claiming in 2014 that “people have a right to be bigots”. As expected, Brandis later proposed a draft bill to remove Section18C entirely. To do so would undermine the interests of social cohesion in a society as multicultural as Australia’s. It would upset the balance between protection and freedom that exists in relation to racial speech, incentivising racial abuse by nationalist groups against vulnerable minorities.
Since its inception in 1975, the Racial Discrimination Act continues to govern every aspect of race relations. Binding throughout the Commonwealth of Australia, this act is enforceable under Chapter 2 of the Criminal Code (Section 6B of the Racial Discrimination Act). Under Section18, vilification is defined as the spiteful speech or any form of publication which is “reasonably likely…to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” (1a). As it stands, it must be correspondingly apparent that the comments are directed at a particular individual or group because of their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”. Moreover, Section18C 23) establishes that this must be “communicated to the public” or in “sight or hearing” of a public place (Commonwealth Parliament of Australia, 1975). In addition to this, vilification may also be regarded a...


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... to an “ongoing attack on their (Indigenous communities) identities” by Bolt and others. In this article, Warren Mundine, head of the PM’s Indigenous advisory council, reiterated that if the likes of Bolt can persistently conjure up racial hate speech, it would “let people off the chain in regards to bigotry” (The Guardian, 2014). The Indigenous people of Australia, which account for fewer than 3%, would bear the full brunt of diminished provisions under the liberalistic Brandis perspective. If the legislation remains the same, the law will keep the media in check – Bolt was dealt with resolutely, forced to pay hefty fines. Furthermore, and more importantly, it remains a deterrent for others in the media. It would not be controversial to say that without its provisions, the political and media elite would have a field day; with minority groups at the receiving end.

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