Time to reform 18C

RDA.jpgEarly in my Senate career I wrote that I got into politics to do something, not to be someone. That intention hasn’t changed in the ten years since.

Sometimes, in politics and life, there are things so important that they need to be defended under any circumstances. For lovers of freedom and jousters in the battle of ideas, one of those principles is freedom of speech.

Be under no illusion, that freedom is under assault like never before in this country.

It is not just the odious and subjective nature of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, but the group think that is infecting almost every part of our lives, where citizens are socially bludgeoned into conformity.

Many in the political class, aided and abetted by sections of the media, harangue and condemn anyone who doesn’t fall into line with their PC agenda. We are now expected to accept unquestioningly that there are dozens of self-declared gender identities, supporting traditional marriage means you are a ‘phobe’ and that Hillary Clinton is a trustworthy person to be US President.

Next time you go to a dinner party, see how you fare disagreeing with any of those statements. My bet is at best you’ll be met with uncomfortable silence. If you dare stick up for Donald Trump you’ll probably receive much worse!

Now, some might conclude that this is just the normal course of events with supposedly objectionable ideas subject to the court of public opinion. In normal circumstances that may be correct but things are different now.

The social justice warriors (SJWs) believe that the ends justify the means to stop others from even voicing opinions that don’t comply with their agenda.

Cartoonist Bill Leak produced an image that captured perfectly one of the issues facing many Aboriginal communities. He was condemned as a racist and the SJWs called for his sacking. Kudos to The Australian for refusing to bow to their pressure. I have no doubt that had the skin colour of the cartoon characters been white, there would have been no public outrage.

The message is very clear: don’t criticise Aboriginal communities or risk losing your job. The refusal to confront the truth may help explain why over $30 billion of taxpayer funds has been spent on these communities over the past ten years with little visible improvement in conditions.

We saw a similar thing with the Four Corners program about juveniles in detention in the NT. The ABC report was biased, incomplete and a perfect example of why we can no longer trust sections of our ABC with impartial and factual reporting. The release of a letter written by the journalist involved praising the NT minister responsible in order to gain access to the facility demonstrates how dubious we should be of such ‘exposés’.

I have experienced similar duplicity and cherry-picking of information to suit a pre-determined agenda by some of those linked to the same Four Corners report. Put simply, I cannot regard some of those individuals as credible and unbiased. They have a political world view which they are seeking to pursue through our publicly-funded broadcaster.

But it doesn't end there. Section 18C of the RDA is now being used as a tool to stifle speech on the basis it may offend or insult someone – not necessarily the person complaining.

The students at a Queensland university excluded from a computer room on the basis of their skin colour are now subject to potential court action. Their crime was to mention the segregation they experienced on a Facebook page. As a result of these innocuous remarks, the complainant supposedly has been incapable of working for several years and wants $250,000 in compensation.

Amazingly, this disgraceful complaint is being considered for trial and these poor students are being subject to the most ghastly and expensive process because they offended someone with a different skin colour who discriminated against them on the basis of their skin colour! A perpetual circle of the grievance industry in action. 

My Senate colleague David Leyonhjelm has complained to the Human Rights Commission about being called an ‘angry white man’ by a journalist, not because he is actually offended (although that isn't a criteria under 18C) but to prove a point. I agree with him. If you simply changed the word white to black, brown or yellow the SJW would spring into a deafening chorus of complaint. Now, such is their silence, you can only hear the crickets chirping, because in their world, only white people can be racist.

I could go on.

We are now being subject to identity politics, pursued through publicly-funded institutions, that only seek to divide us and stifle our freedoms. It is a pervasive step toward Orwell’s totalitarian Newspeak, where words mean whatever the bureaucracy want them to mean.

So what can we do?

Fixing this problem begins with fixing Section 18C of the RDA. While some want to abolish it in its entirety, a good start would be to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the act. This has even drawn strong support from across the political divide. In the last parliament a Bill to this effect (which I co-sponsored) was introduced but was never voted upon.

It’s time for that to change. In the first week back in parliament I’ll be reintroducing the same Bill with the expectation that this parliament will finally get a vote and expose very clearly who among your elected representatives is interested in protecting our freedoms and way of life. It will also indicate those who have been captured by and surrendered to Orwell’s frightening vision characterised in his book Nineteen Eighty-Four.

 

PS. I will also be presenting a petition to the Senate encouraging reform of Section 18C. You can add your name HERE. Please encourage your friends and family to do the same.