Turnbull Capitulates on 18C


Since the introduction of provisions dealing with racial hatred in 1995, [3] the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to insult, humiliate, offend or intimidate another person or group in public on the basis of their race. Specifically, the Act states:

It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people, and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or some or all of the people in the group.

PM Malcolm Turnbull’s argument that the substitution of the word harass for insult, humiliate, offend, or intimidate strengthens the Racial Discrimination legislation is clearly spurious. Harassment involves multiple concerted efforts to antagonize an opponent.

A single incident of public ridicule or denigration, despite the harm it may do to the public image of minority groups, or to the self-image of individuals, would be allowed for the sake of freedom of speech.

How will the courts interpret what constitutes vilification? The proposed legislation requires that judgment be made on the basis of what the “public” is likely to find offensive. How will this be determined?

Might the outcome be more expressions of public hatred to heighten racial tensions at a time when we need to be reminded of the advantages of our multi-cultural heritage, and to welcome those who have turned to our country for asylum?


Fortunately the Australian Senate provides a check to the passage of this ill-considered legislation with Labor, The Greens, Nick Xenophon’s party, and Jacquie Lambie all likely to oppose it.

Australia has many minority groups. Will this cabinet decision be perceived as diminishing their rights against society’s racial bully-boys?


About Kenneth Robson

I studied at Adelaide Boys' High School, and the University of Adelaide, Medical School. graduating in 1961. My field of specialisation was Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery. Prior to establishing my practice in Adelaide, I spent 5 years working in India, and Papua-New Guinea, in the field of reconstructive surgery for leprosy. In retirement I joined the Australian Technical Analyst Association and passed the two examinations for a Diploma inTechnical Analysis, and the designation Certified Financial Technician (CFTe) by the International Federation of Technical Analysts.
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