Leader of the Opposition Daniel Andrews has said that if the Abbott government tears up Australia’s anti-discrimination laws, a Labor government will reinstate them in Victoria.
The statement comes after Federal Attorney-General George Brandis recently proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act that would legalise racist insults and remove protection from discrimination.
The Federal Act allows for the anti-discrimination laws to be effectively revived under Victorian legislation, should the Abbott government’s changes go ahead.
“We live in a modern, multicultural society – we do not tolerate racist insults and we should not weaken our protections against discrimination,” said Andrews, adding, “If Tony Abbott and the Liberals wind back our anti-discrimination laws, an Andrews Labor Government will step in and save them.”
Martin Pakula, MP and Shadow Attorney-General, said, “Labor will introduce state legislation to make it unlawful in Victoria to offend, insult or humiliate people because of their race or origin.
“We will do everything in our power to preserve Victoria as Australia’s multicultural capital and protect ordinary Victorians from acts of hatred,” he said.
Section 6A of the Racial Discrimination Act says the Act does not override or limit state laws, and that legal action exploiting the difference between Federal and State Acts would be terminated.
The Attorney-General’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act were internationally condemned and sparked protests from hundreds of community groups across Australia.
The Federal Attorney-General’s Department received more than 5,500 submissions on the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.