27 March 2017
A Star News Group Publication
Premier says Budget may lead to more work
Spoljaric claims his fifth Wookey Medal…
Tiny life in their hands Annabella Salmon-Lish spent the first three months of her life in the Royal Children’s Hospital. Her parents, Dandenong residents Emily Looker Salmon and Daniel Lish, are urging people to dig deep for this year’s Good Friday Appeal to help other babies and children when they need it most. 166436 Picture: CASEY NEILL ■ See page 4 for the full story.
■ Law change would make discrimination battle harder…
Boost for racism By Casey Neill A Harmony Day hate-speech shock has Greater Dandenong residents fearing a rise in racism. Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act currently makes it unlawful for a person to insult, humiliate, intimidate or offend someone on the basis of their race or ethnic background. On Tuesday 21 March, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced plans to remove the words ‘offend’, ‘insult’, and ‘humiliate’ and replace them with ‘harass’. Omid Cultural Association president and refugee rights advocate Hayat Rahimi said the proposed change would make it harder for him to work against discrimination. “It’s really frustrating because that actually gives the opportunity for One Nation, for ex-
ample, or other people who try to discriminate against, for example, refugees or other groups, to attack more,” he said. “Refugees being new to the country, especially people wearing hijab walking to school, they’ve heard that people said to them ‘terrorists, go back to your country’.” Bruce MP Julian Hill said he was appalled at the proposal. “The Government cannot say what kind of racist things that they want people to be allowed to say and why would these changes it would somehow be OK to humiliate someone because of their race,” he said. Last December he joined with Isaacs MP Mark Dreyfus and Hotham MP Clare O’Neil to host about 120 people at a forum on the issue in Dandenong. “We’ll continue to fight these changes every
step of the way and, hopefully, they die where they should, in the Senate,” he said. Mr Turnbull also announced an overhaul of the complaints process. “The legitimate issues around frivolous complaints should be addressed through changes to the processes for handling complaints, and Labor backs those changes,” Mr Hill said. Mayor Jim Memeti said Greater Dandenong was the most multicultural city in Victoria and possibly Australia. “I’m disappointed to hear that the Federal Government wants to continue to make changes to 18C,” he said. “We have a lot of residents who fear that making these changes could make it worse for them. “Why change something that’s not broken? “By making changes it could make it a bit more difficult for residents in our city.”
At their Monday 23 January meeting, Greater Dandenong councillors - with opposition from Cr Tim Dark - agreed to acknowledge the importance of protections afforded by the Australian Racial Discrimination Act and write to all local federal MPs about the issue. “This is a natural extension, I feel, of what this council does in the multicultural space,” Cr Blades said. “It’s very important that we don’t in any way eradicate what makes people feel safe. “People feel safe with this protection, they won’t feel safe without it.” Cr Sean O’Reilly said the law as it stood “does not inhibit free speech”. “It just inhibits speech that is specifically designed to promote hatred and ignorance,” he said.
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