On 28 February radio 2SER convened a panel of legal and human rights experts to dissect findings the 18C Inquiry Report, tabled in Parliament on 28 February 2017.
For over 20 years, Australia's Racial Discrimination Act has included provisions making it it illegal to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone because of their race.
In 2016, a three-month federal Inquiry was held to investigate the merit of proposed changes to section 18C of the Act, with the aim of ensuring that these laws were striking the right balance between "ensuring social harmony and mutual respect, and the fundamental democratic value of freedom of speech.”
Following the release of the Inquiry's report, 2SER brought together legal and human rights experts to unpack the key issues it raised. Hosted by Nic Healey, the panel consisted of:
Professor Adrienne Stone - Chair at Melbourne Law School, Melbourne University
Simon Breheny - Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs
Dr. Linda Tucker - Employment and Discrimination Solicitor for Redfern Legal Centre.
The inquiry received many expert submissions, and the report on 18C did not make any conclusive recommendation to amend the section. However, on 21 March the government announced a decision to amend 18C, replacing the words "offend", "insult" and "humiliate" with the word "harass". This decision was subsequently voted down by the Senate, meaning that the wording of 18 has remained unchanged.