Changing 18C is a Terrible Idea, Parliament House

Full transcript below:

Mr PERRETT (Moreton—Opposition Whip) (13:57): I refer to the human rights inquiry into freedom of speech in Australia and a comment made by Jeremy Jones from the Australia/Israel and Jewish Affairs Council. He said in response to a question:

The question is: are we opening the floodgates to stuff that we would not want to hear, that no-one around this table would want to hear, inadvertently by trying to improve it without knowing what is likely to happen next?

Since there was the shameful coalition decision in the party room yesterday to attack minorities in Australia—or to open the floodgates, as Jeremy Jones has suggested—I wanted to point out a couple of facts.

The first is that minority groups have made submission after submission saying that opening the floodgates will create harm for minorities and will create more work for lawyers.

Mr Craig Kelly interjecting—

The SPEAKER: The member for Hughes is warned.

Mr PERRETT: Let's be up-front: the current meaning is settled. Justice Kiefel made that clear in the Cairns Post case. Also, as we heard from Iain Anderson, the Deputy Secretary of the Attorney-General's Department, in evidence to the inquiry, any changes in the wording will cause more uncertainty and more litigation. As the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law said,

The rolling back of a law sends a message, as does the passage of one. It can send the message that it is acceptable to offend and insult another person on the basis of their race.

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