Bigotry is not OK

Bigotry is not OK: NSWALC

March 27, 2014 

The New South Wales Aboriginal Land Council has joined the growing condemnation of the Federal Government's moves to amend the Commonwealth Racial Discrimination Act.

NSWALC Chairperson Craig Cromelin says Federal Attorney General, George Brandis, should be asked to withdraw his claim people "have the right to be bigots," when seeking to defend the government's position in Federal Parliament this week.

"Bigotry is not ok, Mr Brandis," Chairperson Cromelin said today.

"It is astonishing that our top law maker seeks to passionately defend the right of people to be bigots than the rights of the most marginalised people in our society."

Chairperson Cromelin says no one should forget the Federal Government's move to amend the Racial Discrimination Act stems directly from the judgment handed down by Justice Bromberg in the case of Eatock v Bolt.

Justice Bromberg found Bolt, who is more a provocateur than a journalist, had contravened section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, in articles which claimed nine prominent people had identified as Aboriginal for career, political or financial gain.

In doing so they had deprived more worthy "genuine" Aborigines access to assistance.

Senator Brandis, who was then Shadow Attorney General, immediately, claimed the judgment was an attack on free speech, while respected senior journalists claimed the judgment had nothing to do with an attack on free speech.

"They pointed out Justice Bromberg's attack was on Bolt's lousy journalism. His articles were riddled with factual errors," Mr Cromelin added.

"Exemptions are available under the current Act which the Australian Human Rights Commission has clearly stated allow the media considerable scope by permitting fair and accurate reporting on any matter of public interest.

"The exemptions allow freedom of editorial opinions provided they are not published without malice.

"This is where Bolt's defence foundered. A fact forgotten in the public debate which Justice Bromberg's judgment ignited.

"Justice Bromberg found his articles contained errors of facts, distortions of the truth and inflammatory and provocative language.

"In my view Bolt's original articles are as offensive now as they were when first published." 

Media contact: Chris Munro, 0438 760 242