Gutting the Racial Discrimination Act: Ray Jackson

Ask yourself this question, White Australia. Will the Aborigines and the asylum seekers be the final groups chosen to be the victims in this process of racial and political attack?

By Ray Jackson
President of the Indigenous Social Justice Association

Below are three articles, two relative to the Abbott/Brandis plans to gut the racial discrimination act to make it legally possible for racial, religious, gender, and other discriminatory acts to be perpetrated against those falling into these categories. The third article sets out why it must remain whole.

Relative to Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders who have historically suffered since the invasion with the outcomes of these hate crimes we know that attacks from Bolt and his ilk will be as nothing to what we will be in for. Bolt, of course, receives far too much media coverage but in his attack on those he identified as "fair-skinned' Aborigines I have only one question to ask. Who was to gain from his attack? I believe the answer was racist australia. So if Bolt writes like a racist, for racists, and attempts to defend himself with racist language then surely we can only reach one logical conclusion. The Q&A audience certainly did.

But what we will be in for, and has remained unsaid by warren mundine (in a previous post) and also by Ken Wyatt (the second report here) is that the Abbott government is lining us up for far worse attacks than what came about by the howard government intervention into the Northern Territory. Howard needed to suspend our rights under the racial discrimination act to begin his land grab of the traditional lands of the NT.

KRudd and Gillard continued the attacks but could not finish us or the job off. Abbott intends to, but he needs to gut the act first so his government can sidestep the courts and do their damnedest. To those who would state that I am being alarmist I only need to direct your sense and sensibilities towards their illegal asylum seekers policies regardless of lives lost.

The Abbott push for either annihilation or assimilation as the last gasp of the colonial rule that we are forced to live, and survive, under since 1788 needs to operate without the niceties of a legal base or a human rights framework. the NT is the main prize. To wipe out traditional ownership of their lands and to underscore Abbott's battle-cry that 'Australia is now open for business' therefore our rights are to be subsumed for the common good of the extractive industries. Cost free to the miners of course.

The third article sets out quite clearly why we need the racial discrimination act to remain whole. That both Mundine and Wyatt argue against their political own that the act must remain whole speaks more volumes than I could ever write.

Ask yourself this question, White Australia. Will the Aborigines and the asylum seekers be the final groups chosen to be the victims in this process of racial and political attack?


Ray Jackson
Indigenous Social Justice Association

2013 Laureate
Prix de l'Homme de Francais
(French Human Rights Medal 2013)
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We live and work on the stolen lands of the Gadigal people.
Sovereignty - Treaty - Social Justice

A war of words over words that wound

Michael Gordon The Age 15 March 2014

The most revealing exchanges about Prime Minister Tony Abbott's plan to remove legislation that makes it an offence to ''offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate'' people on the grounds of race or ethnicity came after the panel that vigorously debated the issue on the Q&A program left the ABC's studio on Monday night.

Suddenly, the Twitterverse was abuzz. Aboriginal leader Marcia Langton was either lauded for leading the charge against the move, or targeted in a series of deeply offensive and racist tweets, including one that began: ''YOU ARE A DISGUSTING UGLY VILE APE ... ''

She wasn't the only one to feel aggrieved. Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt, who was not a member of the panel, wrote that he was so bruised by the program that he didn't go to work the next day. ''When Attorney-General George Brandis hotly insisted I was not racist, the ABC audience laughed in derision,'' he wrote. ''Not one other panellist protested against this lynching.''

Bolt, of course, is the commentator whose prosecution in September 2011 under section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, after casting aspersions on light-skinned Aborigines, became the catalyst for Abbott's election promise to repeal the offending section ''in its current form''.

Almost a year after the Bolt prosecution, Abbott delivered a speech to the Institute of Public Affairs titled Freedom Wars and reflected the view of a number of media commentators and organisations when he defended Bolt's right to insult, impugn and offend on the grounds of free speech.

Freedom of speech, as Abbott saw it, included the freedom to write badly and rudely, and to be obnoxious and objectionable. ''Expression or advocacy should never be unlawful merely because it is offensive,'' he declared.

But, as the reactions to Monday's Q&A demonstrate, the issue is not that simple, and Abbott is under pressure from powerful opposing forces, whose arguments are summed up eloquently by the two Tims who sit as commissioners on the Australian Human Rights Commission.

Arguing for complete repeal is the newly appointed Human Rights Commissioner, Tim Wilson, formerly policy director at the right-leaning IPA, who argues that the provision sets the bar for causing offence way too low, and selectively gives a higher priority to group rights than individual rights. ''I believe in individual rights, not in group rights,'' Wilson says.

Arguing for complete retention is the Race Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane, who maintains that the section has worked as it was intended to work, and that its dilution on the grounds of free speech will send a signal that racial vilification is OK.

This view is shared by a host of ethnic, religious and indigenous groups and leaders, and is summed up neatly by Langton, who says: ''If you get rid of 18C, what's happened to me in the last 24 hours will happen to everybody else in the country. It will unleash this vile hateful racism on everybody.''

There are also several Coalition MPs who are deeply concerned by the plan to repeal 18c, including Craig Laundy, who won the western Sydney seat of Reid from Labor in September. He says he has had about 1000 representations from groups and individuals in his electorate opposing any change - and not one supporting the repeal of the section.

Another important voice in the debate is the Coalition's first indigenous member of the House of Representatives, Ken Wyatt, who has witnessed the results of vilification on the disempowered, especially during the decade he served on Western Australia's equal opportunity tribunal. ''I support the whole concept of free speech, but I think there are boundaries that you have to draw - and this is one of them,'' he told me.

Abbott's mantra is that ''this is going to be the year of keeping commitments''.

But the promise to repeal the contentious section ''in its current form'' sits uncomfortably with another Coalition promise: to finalise by September a draft for amending the constitution to recognise Aboriginal people as the first Australians, as a precursor to a successful referendum.

As Soutphommasane points out, indigenous Australians are the group most vulnerable to racial vilification and there is a real tension between reducing protections against vilification, on the one hand, while promoting constitutional recognition of the first Australians, on the other.

One potential compromise is to remove the words ''offend'' and ''insult'' from the section of the Racial Discrimination Act and to strengthen provisions on racial vilification in the criminal code.

Abbott's instinct is to go further in the direction of free speech by also striking out ''humiliate'', and leaving only ''intimidate'' in a rewritten section 18c.

The irony of any move to strengthen criminal race-hate laws while watering down the civil code is that it is the exact opposite to the approach adopted by the Coalition when the section was drafted in the mid-1990s.

The weakness of the possible compromise approach is that it makes mediation extremely unlikely as a means of resolving incidents before there is a need for adjudication in the courts. This has been one of the strengths of the system as it operates now.

Brandis has the task of consulting interested parties before preparing the legislation, and his message on Friday was that the government will come down on the side of those who want to see maximum freedom of speech. ''And, by freedom of speech, I mean people's freedom to hold opinions and express those opinions without some bureaucrat or official or human rights body or judge telling them what they are allowed and what they are not allowed to say.''

A real danger is that the disagreement over 18c intrudes on the push for constitution recognition and undermines Abbott's fervent desire that recognition be ''a unifying moment in Australia's history''. This is why Abbott, with a sincere commitment to freedom of speech and to closing the gap on indigenous disadvantage and achieving constitutional change, faces a test of leadership requiring sensitivity, nuance and strength in equal measure.

A starting point for all concerned might be to put themselves in the shoes of Langton, receiving those ghastly tweets after Q&A, or Bolt, as he watched the program ''in horror'', and to think twice before saying or writing words calculated to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate.

Michael Gordon is political editor of The Age.

Aboriginal MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks with Coalition on racial discrimination laws

Aboriginal MP Ken Wyatt

Michael Gordon Sydney Morning Herald 15 March 2014

Indigenous Coalition MP Ken Wyatt has spoken out against the repeal of legislation making it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the grounds of race or ethnicity.

Mr Wyatt told Fairfax Media he fears that repealing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act would disempower the vulnerable or result in a hardening of intolerant attitudes.

''Australia has come a long way in the last 30 or 40 years and what I wouldn't like to see is a regression that allows those who have bigoted viewpoints to vilify any group of people at all,'' he said.

His remarks came as Attorney-General George Brandis described the existing law as ''extremely invasive'' and reaffirmed the government's intention to ''do away'' with it.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott promised to ''repeal section 18C in its current form'' in August 2012 on the basis that freedom of speech should not be restrained ''just to prevent hurt feelings''.

Ethnic, religious and indigenous groups and leaders have urged the government to think again.

Genocidal and Ethnocide Apartheid maltreatment of Indigenous Australians

What can decent people do? Decent people should inform everyone they can, and urge and apply Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, parties, politicians, companies and corporations complicit in this ongoing, genocidal and ethnocide Apartheid Australian maltreatment of Indigenous Australians. We cannot walk by on the other side.

'Utopia' by John Pilger

Gideon Polya 14 March 2013

The important movie "Utopia" by the outstanding expatriate Australian humanitarian journalist John Pilger exposes the horrendous circumstances of the Indigenous (Aboriginal) Australians. The following review summarizes the main points raised in "Utopia" and in doing so attempts to quantify and document these horrendous abuses of the ongoing Aboriginal Genocide by what John Pilger describes an Apartheid Australia.

Before detailing the substance of this important movie, it is useful to summarize the main features of the ongoing Australian Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide.

Before the British Invasion in 1788, Indigenous Australians had been living in Australia for about 60,000 years. There were 350-750 different tribes and a similar number of languages and dialects, of which only 150 survive today and of these all but about 20 are endangered. After the brutish British Invasion, the Aboriginal population dropped from about 1 million in 1788 to about 0.1 million in the first century through introduced disease, deprivation and genocidal violence.

The last massacres of Aborigines occurred in the 1920s but no Treaty has ever been signed. Indigenous Australians were only counted after a referendum in 1967 and were finally given some protection by the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act. In the 20th century up to 1 in 10 Aboriginal children were forcibly removed from their mothers, the so-called Stolen Generations. In 2000 about 9,000 Aborigines out of an Aboriginal population of 500,000 died avoidably every year but this had declined to about 2,000 annual avoidable deaths out of a population about 670,000 by 2011. Indigenous Australians are far worse off than White Australians in relation to housing, health, wealth, social conditions, imprisonment, avoidable death and life expectancy [1-4].

There is an ongoing Australian Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide, noting that "genocide" is defined by Article 2 of the UN Genocide Convention as "any of the following acts committed with intent to destroy, in whole or in part, a national, ethnic, racial or religious group, as such: a) Killing members of the group; b) Causing serious bodily or mental harm to members of the group; c) Deliberately inflicting on the group conditions of life calculated to bring about its physical destruction in whole or in part; d) Imposing measures intended to prevent births within the group; e) Forcibly transferring children of the group to another group."

Javier Sethness-Castro comments in relation to "intent" in relation to the related phenomenon of "climate genocide" that similarly arises from racist First World greed and depraved indifference: "Dominant relations can hence be characterized as governed by what Chomsky calls "depraved indifference" to human life. Australian scientist Gideon Polya has termed the current situation "climate genocide", while Bangladeshi climatologist Atiq Rahman similarly labels it "climatic genocide". The phrases are accurate if the word genocide is to be understood as murder of persons belonging to particular classes and social groups, as originally formulated by Raphael Lemkin, the concept's inventor. If the definition is extended to membership or residence in particular geographic regions - a collective of sorts - the term fits better, even if the question of intent for such eventualities is left unresolved: Under the internationally accepted definition, acts of genocide occur only if governed by conscious intent. Against this view, Chomsky is right to suggest that those concerned with such problems focus on "predictable outcome as evidence for intent". Not to work to undermine global capitalism is effectively to be complicit with the genocide of southern peoples. Jean-Paul Sartre put it well in a statement he issued as president of the International War Crimes Tribunal on Vietnam: "The genocidal intent is implicit in the facts. It is not necessarily premeditated." [5]. It is clear that the knowing, deliberate introduction of disease, dispossession, deprivation, massacres, ethnocide, and forced removal of children were (a) realities for the conquered Indigenous Australians, and (b) knowingly intentional as are the continuing Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide today in an Apartheid Australia [1].

Finally, one notes that a politically correct racist (PC racist) racist White Australia has extensive Apartheid policies applied not just to its Indigenous subjects but also variously to non-Indigenous and overseas Australian subjects as detailed by Gideon Polya [6] and by John Pilger [7].

"A picture says a thousand words" and, as outlined below, the movie "Utopia" by John Pilger provides a shocking account of the appalling Aboriginal living conditions and the unforgivable maltreatment of Aboriginal Australians by one of the world's richest countries (my comments below are given in parentheses).

1. The movie begins with video footage of the late mining magnate Lang Hancock making the seriously genocidal suggestion that drinking water should be doctored to sterilize Aborigines unable or unwilling to assimilate (this was an explicit, racist call for Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide).

2. We are then confronted with appalling, dirty, crowded, unhygienic, worse-than-Third-World living conditions of Aborigines in "Utopia" in the Northern Territory of Australia in makeshift humpies or derelict housing that would be condemned in White Australia (these conditions - that greatly saddened and angered great African-American singer and humanist Paul Robeson on his visit to Australia in 1960 - are still prevalent).

3. The appalling Aboriginal health conditions and differential life expectancy linked to poverty and crowded housing are revealed and contrasted with luxury Australian holiday accommodation for $30,000 per week (currently Aboriginal health problems are variously 2- 7 times higher than for White Australia and male and female life expectancies are 12 and 10 years less, respectively, than for White Australian.2, 000 Indigenous Australians die avoidably every year [1, 4]. John Pilger: "In the town of Wilcannia, New South Wales, the life expectancy of Aboriginal people is 37 - lower than the Central African Republic, perhaps the poorest country on Earth, currently racked by civil war" [7] ).

4. "Utopia" reveals the scandal of how a public servant made incorrect and horrifying assertions about child sexual abuse in Northern Territory Aboriginal communities that were broadcast by the ABC TV Lateline program. These incorrect assertions led to a media frenzy that horribly defamed Indigenous Australians and ultimately led to a military invasion of Northern Territory Aboriginal communities and removal of Northern Territory Aborigines from the protection of the 1975 Racial Discrimination Act (a subsequent expert report entitled "Little Children Are Sacred" found (p57) that "it is not possible to accurately estimate the extent of child sexual abuse in the Northern Territory's Aboriginal communities", while reporting (p235) that 34% of Australian women and 16% of men have been subject to sexual abuse as children [8], a matter scrupulously ignored by PC racist Mainstream media in Australia).

5. "Utopia" reveals from a health and welfare perspective that the racist, military intervention in the Northern Territory that was backed by the 2 major political groups, the Liberal -National Party Coalition and Labor (aka the Lib-Labs or Liberal-Laborals) was not helpful (communities were not consulted and were grossly defamed e.g., by signs have been erected outside "occupied" communities indicating that "pornography" was banned by the Federal Government).

6. "Utopia" reveals that Aborigines are hugely over-represented in Australian prisons (while Aborigines represent 3% of the Australian population they represent about 30% of the Australian prison population [9]).

7. Deaths in custody of Indigenous Australians led to a national inquiry but this tragedy continues. "Utopia" deals movingly with the search for justice for their dead son by an Aboriginal couple (in an appalling example, an Aboriginal leader was literally cooked to death while being transported across hundreds of kilometers of hot desert in an unventilated prison van by staff of the G4S organization that was subsequently involved in running Australia's privatized off-shore concentration camps for refugees).

8. "Utopia" deals with the Stolen Generations and reveals that the rate of removal of Aboriginal; children from their mothers is now higher than before the "Sorry" for the Stolen Generations delivered by PM Kevin Rudd to the Australian Federal Parliament in 2008 (one notes that PM Rudd ruled out any compensation and failed to mention "racism" or "genocide" in his apology [10, 11]. Paddy Gibson, University of Technology Sydney: "For each of the last five years, approximately a thousand Aboriginal children have been coming into the 'out-of-home care' system long-term. This is a higher number than were removed during any time in the twentieth century. Half of the children have not been placed with kin or relatives. We are fast approaching the Stolen Generations removal rate cited by Rudd: between 10 and 30 per cent of all Indigenous children. A 2011 annual report from the Department of Family and Community Services found that 9.6 per cent of Aboriginal children in NSW were in out-of-home care. Across Australia, nearly 6 per cent of Indigenous children are in out-of-home care. If current trends continue, the figure will exceed 10 per cent by the end of the decade. While Kevin Rudd was apologizing for the past Aboriginal children were being taken in numbers greater than at any time in the 20th Century" [11]).

9. "Utopia" gets to the heart of Australian indifference to the Aboriginal Genocide with a segment about "Australia Day" that White Australia celebrates as the anniversary of the British Invasion on 26 January 1788 but which Indigenous Australia marks as "Invasion Day". White Australians "patriots" interviewed by John Pilger come out with the usual Australian indifference and jingoism e.g. "Aussie. Aussie. Aussie, oi, oi, oi" , "get a job", and expressions of patriotic disgust (no regard for the extraordinarily complex pre-Invasion Indigenous culture).

10. An extraordinary part of "Utopia" deals with Rottnest Island off the coast of Western Australia where a tourist holiday resort has been created out of what was formerly a deadly 19th century concentration camp for Indigenous Australians (just imagine the outcry if the cell blocks of former Nazi death camps were refitted for luxury tourist accommodation).

11. In "Utopia" John Pilger interviewed many people including ordinary Australians, European and Aboriginal community and health workers, politicians and journalists. In particular he interviewed Chris Graham (former editor of the National Indigenous Times) and researcher Paddy Gibson (who exposed the ongoing creation of the "new", post-"Sorry" Stolen Generation [11]).

12. "Utopia" finally deals with the long-standing issue of Aboriginal land rights that came to prominence with the 1966 walk-off by 200 Aboriginal stockmen, house servants, and their families from the UK Vesteys' Wave Hill cattle station on their traditional land as a protest against discriminatory low wages. Australian pastoralists historically used Aborigines as effective slave labor, paying them in tea, flour, sugar and tobacco. In the famous Mabo Decision in June 1992, six months after Eddie "Koiki" Mabo's death, the High Court of Australia upheld his claim that Murray Islanders held native title to land in the Torres Strait and thus struck down the English invaders' claim of Australia as a "terra nullius" ("an empty land"). However John Pilger trenchantly criticized the Hawke Labor Government for not adequately supporting land rights. Thus, according to the Sydney Morning Herald's review of "Utopia": "Pilger reminds the viewer that Bob Hawke in the 1980s walked away from genuine land rights in the face of a racist scare campaign from the mining industry" [12] . (Labor in 2010-2013 similarly walked away from climate change action and budget surpluses in the face of a concerted Mining Industry and Big Business campaign. Labor and Coalition Governments have made provision of decent housing for Northern Territory Indigenous Australians conditional on their leasing their hard-won land. Thus University of Technology Sydney Jumbunna: "Following consistent failure to secure these leases, the Commonwealth compulsorily acquired all Aboriginal township land through the Northern Territory National Emergency Response Act 2007, for a period of five years. This required the suspension of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975" [13]).


John Pilger's "Utopia" is an important, must-see film about the continuing Aboriginal Genocide and Aboriginal Ethnocide by an Apartheid Australia. What can decent people do? Decent people should (a) inform everyone they can, and (b) urge and apply Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) against all people, parties, politicians, companies and corporations complicit in this ongoing, genocidal and ethnocide Apartheid Australian maltreatment of Indigenous Australians. We cannot walk by on the other side.


Gideon Polya, "Ongoing Aboriginal Genocide And Aboriginal Ethnocide By Politically Correct Racist Apartheid Australia", Countercurrents, 16 February 2014.
"Aboriginal Genocide".
Thomson N, Burns J, Burrow S, Kirov E (2004) Overview of Indigenous health 2004. Australian Indigenous Health Bulletin, 4(4), October-December 2004.
MacRae A, Thomson N, Anomie, Burns J, Catto M, Gray C, Levitan L, McLoughlin N, Potter C, Ride K, Stumpers S, Trzesinski A, Urquhart B (2013).Overview of Australian Indigenous health status, 2012.
Javier Sethness-Castro, "Imperiled life: revolution against climate catastrophe", AK Press, 2012.
Gideon Polya, "Open Letter To Australian Human Rights Commission Condemns Pro-Zionist Anti-Jewish Anti-Semitism In Apartheid Australia", Countercurrents, 4 March 2014 .
John Pilger, "Mandela's gone but apartheid lives in Australia", Green Left Weekly, 26 December 2013.
"Little Children are Sacred" Report.
"Aboriginal prison rates", Creative Spirits.
Gideon Polya, "Australian Aboriginal Genocide Continues Despite Historic Apology", Countercurrents, 19 February, 2008.
Paddy Gibson, "Stolen futures", Overland, Spring 2013.
Julian Drape, "John Pilger's damning new film about indigenous Australia:, Sydney Morning Herald, 31 December 2013.
UTS Jumbunna, "No to township leases".