Labor does not support changes to Racial Discrimination Act

Mr STEPHEN JONES (Throsby) (13:38): Contrary to what the Attorney-General, George Brandis, believes, Labor believes Australians have the right to live free from bigotry. When Australia ditched the White Australia policy and gave the First Australians the right to vote, we turned the corner on government-backed racism. As the first law officer, the Attorney-General should be the first line of defence against this behaviour. He should not be the person who gives solace and comfort to those who urge hate speech. What is worse, the changes proposed are not supported by any evidence.

I am not alone in the House today in saying that I believe in these things. I know the member for Cunningham shares these views. Together we hosted a community forum on the issue. The response was uniform: the community believes these proposals stink. Not one person had any good words to say about the change. It is time for the Prime Minister to step in, put George Brandis back in his box. He should do it because it is the right thing to do, but he should also do it because it is now interfering with something that enjoys support across the chamber—that is, the proposed referendum to recognise our First Australians in our Constitution. It falls to the Prime Minister to become a champion of the Racial Discrimination Act, one of our country's proudest achievements, and confirm our pride in being a multicultural society.

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