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The Australian, freedom of speech and 18C

Speeches in Parliament
Nick McKim 16 Feb 2017

It's like Groundhog Day in this place, but instead of an adorable critter like a groundhog, the anti-18C campaign is actually more accurately likened to some kind of mutant, feral rat that sticks its head out of its burrow on a consistent. And lo and behold, again in The Australian today, thousands of words have appeared in regards to Islam, in regards to what happened on Q & A and of course this continues the absolute torrent we have seen from The Australian about 18C over the last year or so. I want to make a couple of comments on that, because The Australian, or as it may be better described, the Q-Society Gazette, has become little more than a loss-making, race baiting rag. I've got a suggestion for The Australian, and that is where the headline, the name of the paper "The Australian" on the front page, maybe they could put in smaller font just underneath it "We're not racist but..."

Let's see if The Australian is prepared to take on that. And I know I'm a greenie, and I'm playing into stereotypes here, but it actually breaks my heart to think of the thousands of trees that have died so that The Australian's 18C rubbish can be printed every day. Column after column of middle aged white blokes screaming about how their rights in Australia are being suppressed and trampled. And it might even be believable if those same middle aged white blokes weren't writing op-ed after op-ed that espoused their bigoted and xenophobic world view. It's worth pointing out that The Australian prints the disgusting, disgraceful, eugenicist views of Gary Johns who remember wants people to be sterilised before they can get the dole. I mean, really. The anti-18C campaign, run by the Q-Society Gazette The Australian, run by the IPA, run by the agents of the IPA in this place is about nothing more than greenlighting angry white people to use the N-word in this country. The Australian Greens won't have a bar of it. And when they're not kicking vulnerable minorities, The Australian, they're dodging paying their fair share of tax. They want to talk about lifters and leaners, well how about they ditch their dodgy accountants, their dodgy accounting schemes and actually start paying their fair share of tax so that we can look after ordinary Australian people better.

While we have heard on the Human Rights Committee horror story after horror story after horror story from peak bodies representing anyone from the Jewish community, to the Muslim community, to the Indian community, to the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community about the every day racism that their members experience. The lived experience of racism in this country faced by people from minority racial or cultural groups is absolutely horrendous. And of itself, that's a freedom of speech issue, because of course when people are treated in a racist way, often with threats or violence, their freedom of speech is compromised, because they are afraid to speak out and say what really think without facing discrimination in their workplace, in their schools, on the streets, in their communities, in the pubs that they might have a beer in. So they hold it all in. They do not exercise their right to free speech in this country because they're too bloody scared to talk. Now that's a problem, that's the freedom of speech problem in this country, not a bunch of privileged middle-aged white guys, it's the lived experience of multicultural Australia and minority groups in this country that is the real freedom of speech issue that we need to be debating more often in this place.

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