Australia: Repealing 18C will consign the idea of a ‘fair go’ to the dustbin of Australian history | Richard di Natale

Australian Green Party Senator di Natale on the proposed watering down of anti-discrimination legislation:

Malcolm Turnbull is a smart man. He must understand that section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act just sets the minimum standard of engagement in a respectful, multicultural society and all that is required is that any public debate on matters of race and culture be conducted “in good faith”.

And he must also know that the 18C debate is a proxy. When certain far-right politicians say they want to repeal 18C, what they’re really saying is that they want to repeal multiculturalism itself.

Just last year we celebrated forty years of the visionary Racial Discrimination Act, the final death-knell of the White Australia policy and a signal moment in our journey towards becoming the world’s most successful multicultural society.

Multiculturalism – the celebration of cultural differences within our diverse Australian nation – is one of Australia’s great strengths, a source of our prosperity and happiness. Multiculturalism is a source not only of cultural capital, but financial capital as well. When we attack it we become poorer in every respect.

By reviving the toxic debate about section 18C, Malcolm Turnbull has given in, yet again, to those who seem determined to consign the notion of the “fair go” to the dustbin of Australian history. What we politicians say in our nation’s parliament has a direct impact on communities – right down to how children are treated in playgrounds and on their way to and from school. Opening up 18C just gives cover for some people to be racist.

Source: Repealing 18C will consign the idea of a ‘fair go’ to the dustbin of Australian history | Richard di Natale | Opinion | The Guardian

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About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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