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The Abbott government has proposed removing the words insult, offend and humiliate from section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
The proposed changes, announced by Attorney-General George Brandis last month, would see the stipulations in section 18C replaced with provisions outlawing racial vilification and intimidation.
In its submission as part of the community consultation for the planned changes, the Commission argued that the Act should remain unchanged.
“It should be recognised that, in its current form, the Racial Discrimination Act as applied by the courts and administered by the Australian Human Rights Commission has successfully resolved hundreds of complaints about racial hatred over the past two decades,” it read.
“Any proposed change requires further justification.”
The submission argued that the definition of vilify and intimidate were too narrow, resulting in near duplication of civil prohibitions in place at state and territory levels.
“The Commission is concerned that this is unlikely to provide any substantive protection from racial vilification that does not already exist,” it read.
“A key problem with existing state and territory racial vilification laws is that they focus on the impact of racial vilification on a third party, and whether that third party could be incited to hatred towards the victim as a result of the conduct, rather than focussing on the impact of racial vilification on the victim.”
The submission follows reported tension within the Commission after Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson backed the government’s proposed changes.
Mr Wilson later denied there was a split between himself, President Gillian Triggs and Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, stating that he had not endorsed all aspects of the government’s proposal.
Submissions close today.