© Andrew Meares
Attorney-General Senator George Brandis: Australians have a right to be bigots.
Whether it's in their treatment of asylum seekers, their policy of secrecy or their intention to amend the Racial Discrimination Act, it seems that the Abbott government is intent on destroying Australia's moral compass.
Attorney-General, George Brandis, defending the Government's intention to repeal s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, told the Senate
Monday that "people have the right to be bigots". It appears that in George Brandis's world view, bigots are the persecuted minority whose rights need to be staunchly defended.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act makes it unlawful to do an act that "is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people" on racial or ethnic grounds." It is followed by s18D (which is conveniently ignored by many conservative commentators) which seeks to balance the objectives of s18C with the need to protect justifiable freedoms of speech and expression.
The provisions seek to offer legislative protection to the most vulnerable and marginalised members of our society - our indigenous population, culturally and ethnically diverse communities and religious minority groups.
Whilst in the past politicians, particularly in the lead up to an election, have sought to indirectly play on the public's fears, Senator Brandis's comments have taken it to a whole new level. This is the first time that I can recall, where a Senior Minister has directly endorsed (and thereby encouraged) having bigoted views. There's no reading between the lines here - Brandis has specifically said that "people have the right to be bigots, you know." This is somewhat unprecedented.