On Friday 24th March, the Chinese Australian Forum, CASS, Neighbourhood Eastwood along with other community groups and the Hon Ernest Wong MLC held a press conference to express their disappointment with the Government's decision to change section 18C of the racial discrimination Act.
Groups participating in the press conference included:
Chinese Australian Forum - CAF
Chinese Australian Services Society - CASS
Australian Council of Chinese Organisations - AUSCOCO
Chinese Youth League of Australia - CYL
Chung Shan Society of Australia
Korean Society of Sydney
Vietnamese Community in Australia
Hon Ernest Wong MLC - ALP
Queensland Chinese Forum
See full press release below:
TURNBULL FAILS ON 18C; FAILS ON MULTICULTURALISM
The Chinese Australian Forum (CAF) and other community organisations today said that Prime
Minister Malcolm Turnbull and his Coalition Government had failed all multicultural communities
after the announcement of the Government’s desire to weaken racial discrimination laws.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (1975) makes it an offense to “offend, insult, humiliate
or intimidate” on the basis of race. The Turnbull Government will move legislation replacing “offend, insult and humiliate” with the word “harass”, thus weakening racial discrimination laws.
CAF President Kenrick Cheah said that all minority groups should be concerned over these moves.
“This sends a strong message to the general community, that the Prime Minister and his
Government are saying its okay to bully people because they are different,” Mr Cheah said.
“The Coalition have made it clear that their position is that it is okay to “offend, insult and humiliate” people on the basis of their skin colour. What message does this send to our kids?
“These laws are more than just legislative frameworks, they set a standard for behaviour and
respect by which everyone in this country can abide.”
Mr Cheah said that after a Public Enquiry that failed to come to any conclusive agreement, the
Turnbull Government had caved in to conservative elements. “Many organisations, CAF among them, made submissions to the public enquiry. We also fronted
the enquiry to give evidence,” Mr Cheah said.
“There was no conclusive outcome – yet the Coalition feels the need to change laws to make it
easier for racists to be racist.” Mr Cheah said multicultural communities would be mobilising against the changes and there would likely be a political price to pay for the Coalition.
“There is a whole belt of marginal seats out there with very active and vocal multicultural
communities – for example in NSW we have seats like Reid, Banks, Bennelong to name a few.
“This foolishness may end up defining the Coalition to a whole generation of multicultural voters.
“There is a feeling of betrayal within the community. Migrants come here seeking a better life and to contribute to make Australia a better place.
“Everyone deserves to be treated with respect, no matter their skin colour, their culture, their
gender, sexuality or anything else that sets them apart. “Even if this Bill dies in the Senate as many predict, the fact is, the Coalition Government has sent a clear message, if you have a different skin colour, we won’t protect you.
“The Prime Minister claims that Section 18C is a law that has lost credibility; but in the eyes of most the only one who has lost credibility is the Prime Minister. “He allowed his Liberal Western Australian colleagues to swap preferences in an alliance with Pauline Hanson and One Nation, and now this. “The Chinese community won’t stand for it, the multicultural community won’t stand for it, and the broader Australian community that believes in fairness and respect will not let the Prime Minister get away with it.”
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