01 Mar Reforms options with PM
James Campbell — Herald Sun — 28 February, 2017
THE fight to protect free speech in Australia will move to the Coalition party room after a landmark parliamentary inquiry handed the Turnbull Government options for reforming the notorious 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
While free speech supporters were disappointed the parliamentary inquiry made no recommendations on 18C, they were pleased it gave options for reform. It did, however, make recommendations on how the Human Rights Commission could be reformed to get rid of frivolous complaints.
Veteran Tasmanian conservative senator Eric Abetz said he was disappointed the report failed to reach a conclusion on sections 18C and 18D but acknowledged “it does make a number of positive recommendations on enhancing the governance arrangements of the Act and operation of the Human Rights Commission”
“Unless urgent reform is progressed, we will continue to see outrageous claims brought forward like we’ve seen with the QUT case and the Bill Leak case,” Senator Abetz said.
Liberal senator James Paterson said the report was a big step towards reform of 18C.
“There is now bipartisan consensus that the status quo must change. Everyone agrees that at the very least, the Human Rights Commission processes have failed and need to be overhauled,” he said.
“It’s now up to the government to decide exactly which path to take, but my view is that the words offend, insult and humiliate should be removed from 18C and be replaced by harass. 18D should also be reformed to bring it into line with defamation law by including a “truth” defence.”
The Government will no consider the report before deciding what to do.
This article originally appeared in the Herald Sun.