Page 4592 - Week 11 - Tuesday, 18 October 2011

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Mr Bolt, however, did not speak his mind in good conscience. Justice Bromberg conducted a fine-grain analysis and found that Mr Bolt distorted the truth towards his own ends. He was flat-out wrong in his description of the racial heritages of several of the Aboriginal people he smeared. Evidently, Mr Bolt is not one to let the facts get in the way of a good slur.

Justice Bromberg also found that Mr Bolt intended to be inflammatory. He wrote his articles with all the invective he could muster. He set out to be derisive, inflammatory and provocative. He was not seeking to further public debate but to ridicule a group of people based on the colour of their skin. This is the sort of speech which has no place in a modern multicultural society.

Our courts are willing to enforce the Racial Discrimination Act to defend values of racial tolerance and public civility. No matter their racial background, every Canberran can be heartened by the fact that our society will not brook the mockery and bullying of our fellow citizens because of their race. We can be comforted that the courts are not afraid to draw the line between debate and demagoguery and that they are conscious of the harm caused by powerful voices who wish to foment racial disharmony.

Mr Bolt has made much in his columns of “political Aborigines”. Evidently, he considers it a pejorative term. I am proud to be a political Aborigine. I am proud that we have anti-vilification legislation, both federal and in the ACT, to protect all Canberrans from being singled out and ridiculed on the basis of the colour of their skin. Modern, multicultural Australia has no time for racist polemic.

I note, however, that the commitment of those opposite to this legislation is not so concrete. Their federal colleague Liberal Senator George Brandis has indicated that his party would amend the Racial Discrimination Act, so horrified are they by this eminently reasonable Federal Court decision.

I wonder what sort of amendments Senator Brandis has in mind. Under a Liberal government, will Mr Bolt and his ilk only be free to vilify Aborigines, or will their freedom extend to other groups? Does the Liberal Party support the ridicule of Jewish people, Indians, Chinese, Sudanese? What do ACT Liberals think about Senator Brandis’s proposals? They should now explain to the people of Canberra exactly what sort of racism they think ought to be permitted by our laws.

Australian Rugby Choir

MR HANSON (Molonglo) (6.01): I rise tonight to congratulate the Australian Rugby Choir on the success of their musical afternoon conducted on Saturday, 15 October at the Hughes Baptist church. I also congratulate the choir on the massive contribution they make to the Canberra community.

The event on Saturday was a sell-out, and I would like to recognise the attendance also of my colleague Mr Steve Doszpot. We both enjoyed the concert immensely. It was wonderful. I also acknowledge Credo, Ken Goodge and Sarah Carvalho, who all

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