Maria Tedeschi

S&M: Shelving of 18C changes – gone or just gone for now?

george brandis 18c
Image: AAP/Stefan Postles

Maria Tedeschi, outspoken in opposition to the proposed 18c changes, joins many others (Tim Wilson? Ah, no) in applauding the “leader’s call” on the contentious issue…

 

“A good government governs for all Australians, including those who haven’t voted for it”, Prime Minster Abbott said during his election winning speech.

Abbott did just that when he took a “leadership” decision to shelve changes to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. And I say shelved as opposed to dumped because I’m personally a little wary when it comes to assertions from the current government. It’s still abundantly clear that Abbott and Senator Brandis are in favour of the changes but concede it’s a “complication” at this point in time with the introduction of new counter-terrorism laws.

A good leader should always look to unite a country, not divide it; and for the time being, I breathe a sigh of relief.

You would honestly have to have a dead heart to believe that the proposed changes to 18C were a good idea, especially if you watched Q & A on Monday night where the panel was made up entirely of Indigenous Australians talking about levels of racism they’ve endured all their lives.

And yes, Tim Wilson and Andrew Bolt, I am looking at you.

Too many lobby groups hate free speech”, complained Andrew Bolt.

Sour grapes Mr Bolt, whose rant on light-skinned Aborigines kick-started this entire debate.

Of the 4100 submissions to the Attorney General’s office, 76 percent opposed the changes, 20.5 percent were in favour and 3 percent wanted a complete repeal of 18C.

And Tim Wilson?

Well his views are all sorts of special – take his tweets for example –

Being Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner I think Mr Wilson has it backwards, because that’s exactly what human rights are – being free from discrimination, free from vilification, free from persecution.

I am heartened that so many people, lobby groups and politicians believed the wording in Section 18C is right and fought for it. Cultural change takes a long time and we can never become complacent.

And I do think we are making some progress. When even my 11-year-old is clued in enough to consider his words, to show respect to people outside of his race, while still being able to talk about issues relating to culture and ethnicity, then I think the adults in charge, who presumably have a greater command of the English language, can do the same.

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