RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 – SECT 18C Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin
(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:
(a) the act is reasonably likely … to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and
(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group
ABC News Breakfast talks to Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson 6/8/2014
Tim Wilson: “I think it is incredibly important that laws apply to everybody equally. One of the great misunderstandings about this law is that there are equivalent standards against other types of prejudices that we don’t like. There is no equivalent to 18C against sexism, against issues of sexuality or unjust prejudice against people on the basis of disability … this is just a specific one of race that goes substantially further that any other law and has a chilling effect on free speech … I think the Prime Minister is very wrong removing proposals to change the law. Even if the proposals he had put forward had been adopted they still would have gone further than regulations on speech in any other areas of unjust prejudice such as sexism or issues of sexuality or disability … this law does not deal with harassment those sorts of laws exist at a state level and deal precisely with what a lot of people are concerned about … I think we need to get back to the simple proposition that all speech is legal until it is made illegal and imagine if we establish the standard that it is was unlawful to offend people on any number of other categories on restrictions on free speech and people would rightly be outraged. [The shock jocks?] And all I have argued at every point and remains the case and should be legislated is that if a standard applies to one it should apply to all
Virginia Trioli: We do have that? You could argue that the Sex Discrimination Act is based on that.
Tim Wilson: That is factually incorrect if you look at the Sex Discrimination Act it has no provision like Section 18C – it deals with issues of harassment in the workplace.
Don’t be fooled by Tim Wilson’s double speak. He does not want substantive protections against hate speech implemented, rather he is using this country’s lack of protections for certain minority groups to provide an argument to get rid of 18C. He does not want a level playing field, he would prefer to be rid of all referees and like Attorney General, George Brandeis, give bigots a free run.
He is right the Sex Discrimination Act does not protect women from hate speech or intolerance and intimidation. If it did would all the shock jocks and the Murdoch media have got away with insulting and humiliating the highest woman in the land: former Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Imagine printing a disgusting sexist menu based on our Prime Minister’s body parts that was presented at a Liberal part dinner for MP Mal Brough!
Julia Gillard says Mal Brough should be disendorsed over ‘grossly sexist’ menu – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)
“The Opposition was forced on to the back foot in the row over sexism in politics after the menu, which contains crude references to Ms Gillard’s breasts, thighs and genitalia, emerged online. It was used at a dinner for about 20 people hosted by Mr Brough in Brisbane on March 28. Opposition Treasury spokesman Joe Hockey was the guest of honour. It featured a dish called “Julia Gillard Kentucky Fried Quail – Small Breasts, Huge Thighs & A Big Red Box”.
Absolutely disgusting and portrayed Australia as a deeply misogynist country.
So it seems Australians are free to continue to practice intolerance and state the most hateful and prejudicial statements against women and in particular single mothers. So to Tim Wilson’s discredit as Human Rights Commissioner he is not arguing for more protections for women or for that matter any other minority group from hate speech – and this is where we differ. His argument is that he wants 18C removed because no such equivalent exists to prevent hate speech and stigmatization of other vulnerable groups. This is a dangerous as it attempts to be divisive and water down the very real need to stop hate mongering. I argue to not only keep 18C but strengthen the Sex Discrimination Act so that it really protects women in all situations, in particular single mothers, from being stigmatized and ridiculed by pundits and right wing ‘think tanks’. In short to protect women and girls from the institutional hatred and intolerance that led to a quarter of a million newborns being stolen from their mothers with no-one ever being brought to account. The atrocity of stealing generations of white Australian babies will be repeated because none of the structural changes that are needed to protect women from being held up to ridicule and and hate have been put in place. Such as the simple insertion of legislation to protect them from hate speech which of itself leads to intolerance and unpunished crimes against women’s basic human rights.
It is ironic that Tony Abbott’s justification for going back on his promise to remove 18C is because he wants to be able to crack down on hate speech because he states hate speech incites individuals to commit acts of violence. Yet Mr. Abbot hate speech does lead to members of society believing they can take the law into their own hands and commit acts of violence on those it marginalises and de-humanises.
If mothers’ rights had been protected in the past there would have been no way state welfare departments’ around the country could have run bigoted campaigns attacking single mothers as ‘unfit’ to rear their newborns. Or label their newborns as “unwanted”. Or make claims that their babies were better off adopted by white married couples, purely and simply because of their mother’s unwed status. Such hate mongering bred intolerance and indifference in the broader community. It gave those working in the adoption industry the justification they needed to excuse themselves of the theft of hundreds of thousands of babies and children. Then it created the intolerant and prejudicial environment that existed and allowed these criminals to get away with their crimes for decades with impunity.
If adequate laws existed now to protect single mothers from the intolerance and hate mongering of individuals like Dr. Jeremy Sammut, spokesperson for the right wing think tank: Centre for the Independent Studies (CIS), his comments would never be tolerated let alone published. Sammut has written that we need to bring back Forced Adoption because supporting single mothers will breed an underclass of criminals in Australia. These derogatory and highly inflammatory comments are published on the CIS website and reiterated through Murdoch publications.
Sammut accuses welfare payments accorded to single mothers to having “led to the creation of an underclass of never-married single mother families that are significantly over-represented in cases of child abuse and neglect”. Further he suggests “the dangers of welfare for the unwed has contributed significantly to the creation of an underclass of children who would be better off being removed and adopted by good families”.
He states: “The politically incorrect reality is the introduction of the single mother’s pension by the Whitlam Government in 1973 has led to the very social problems that forced adoption was intended to prevent: the rise of a dependent class of single mothers reliant on public assistance and unable to properly care for children outside of a traditional, financially self-supporting family (2013d).
Excerpt from Thesis: Stolen Hearts Stolen Babies pp. 78-80 Vol 1 (linked to this Blog)
“So concerned that adoption would be put under societal scrutiny and be found wanting Sammut released his research paper titled: The Fraught Politics of Saying Sorry for Forced Adoption: Implications for Child Protection Policy in Australia (2013, Mar 19) the same week that Prime Minister Julia Gillard issued the apology to all white mothers forcibly separated from their stolen children (2013, Mar 21). At the same time CIS published several pro-adoption articles: Apologise but allow adoption (2013, Mar 19) and Why adoption should … continue (2013, March 22) His concerns were reiterated in the Murdoch press (Sammut: 2013g; Morton: 2013). Sammut acknowledged that he was being ‘politically incorrect’ criticising both the apology and the Survivors of Forced Adoption at such a time, but being a ‘thinker’ in a ‘think tank’ gave him the freedom to speak out (Sammut: 2013f). To add insult to injury he reduced all the thousands of mothers and adoptees who have been campaigning for justice for decades to mere ‘anti-adoptionists’. He accused the Survivors of the Federal Government’s illegal removalist polices of misusing the national apology for their own political agenda. Which he claimed, was to discredit adoption, promote family preservation policies and keep ‘problem families together’, hence endanger children. So conflating the issue of the state-sanctioned theft of newborns (Xamon: 2010a & b) from their mothers and fathers to a separate issue entirely, that of children growing up within an abusive environment (2013c). Listening to his diatribe was a poignant reminder of past justifications used by proponents of forced removal policies.
Ironically because of his deep fear that ‘adoption will be tarnished’ by the Federal government apologising for Forced Adoption (The Australian: 2013, Mar 19; Morton: 2013, The Australian, Mar 19) Sammut caused abuse. The apology was to facilitate the healing process of those who had unnecessarily suffered the trauma of illegal separation. To have Sammut equate their/our experience with a failed child protection policy was uniquely distasteful and unnecessarily cruel. None of the newborns were taken because of abuse, but rather because there was a demand for them by white, middle class couples. Mirroring Patrick Fagan’s (2006) eugenic rhetoric, Sammut accuses welfare payments accorded to single mothers to having “led to the creation of an underclass of never-married single mother families that are significantly over-represented in cases of child abuse and neglect”. Further he suggests “the dangers of welfare for the unwed has contributed significantly to the creation of an underclass of children who would be better off being removed and adopted by good families” (2013d). Such emotive and prejudicial language is very much at home with the past eugenic ideology that underpinned the forced removals of the Aboriginal Stolen Generation, The Forgotten Australians, the British Child Migrant Scheme as well as the White Australian Stolen Generation who were the subject of the apology. Rather it is Sammut and the CIS who have an obvious political agenda and that is to make available more newborns for infertile couples, and be of pecuniary benefit to the State. Sammut states:
‘The politically incorrect reality is the introduction of the single mother’s pension by the Whitlam Government in 1973 has led to the very social problems that forced adoption was intended to prevent: the rise of a dependent class of single mothers reliant on public assistance and unable to properly care for children outside of a traditional, financially self-supporting family’ (2013d).
Summat it seems, and the CIS, would like a return to the era of Forced Adoption that led to the high number of babies available that took place in the late 1960s to 1971.
Excerpt from A Stolen Generation in the Making Part 5:
 Sammut cites extensively eugenicist Charles Murray in his Centre for Independent Studies Issue Analysis (‘The Fraught Politics of Saying sorry for Forced Adoption, Implications for Child Protection Policy’ (2012, p. 8)) to support his argument that giving welfare to single mothers will create “an underclass”. Sammut states: “The tragic reality is that there is a growing underclass of inadequate parents who are not fit to care for children, which includes disproportionate numbers of single-mother families”. Murray in a widely discussed 1993 op-ed piece in the Wall Street Journal (‘The Coming White Underclass’), described illegitimacy as “the single most important social problem of our time, more important than crime, drugs, poverty, illiteracy, welfare or homelessness because it drives everything else”. The heart of this problem, according to Murray, who also spoke in November 1994 on This Week with David Brinkley, is that “we have too many babies living in communities without fathers … [white illegitimacy] is overwhelmingly a lower-class phenomenon” Murray cited in Barbara Yngvesson, (1997). ‘Negotiating Motherhood: Identity and Difference in “Open” Adoptions’, Law & Society Review, 31(1), pp. 31-80 at p. 39. Prime Minister Tony Abbott clearly influenced by the above 2 eugenicists stated that adoption should be promoted for the children of “parents who are not effective” see Emma Griffiths. (2013, Dec 19). ‘Tony Abbott announces new measures to simplify adoption within a year’, ABC News, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-12-19/tony-abbott-vows-measures-easier-
Yes we need 18C but we also need better protections for women from hate mongers like Jeremy Sammut and others who incite intolerance which then in turn lead to social policies that are discriminatory, divisive and devoid of human rights.