Owens: backdown a win for multiculturalism

Parramatta federal Labor MP Julie Owens has congratulated the multicultural groups, individuals and communities who fought the government’s proposed changes to sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act, which were dropped yesterday.

“This announcement is a win for community and religious groups who have fought these proposed changes from the beginning,” said Julie Owens.

“One of our country’s proudest achievements is our multicultural society.  Every Australian deserves the right to live free from racial and ethnic vilification and 18C acts as a protection for our multicultural community.”

Ms Owns said the government’s proposals would have watered down protections against racist hate speech "that have served our nation well for almost 20 years".

Over 4,100 submissions were received in response to the exposure draft amendment, with the vast majority of submissions opposed to the proposed changes.

Ms Owens said multicultural communities of Australia came together on this issue and eventually won the argument that bigotry has no place in modern Australia. 

“The very fact that these changes were being seriously considered by this government was in itself considered to be deeply offensive by many in our community,” Ms Owens said.

“Racist hate speech has no place in our society and we need to make sure that this proposal is gone for good.”

Ms Owens said Labor remained concerned the Abbott government would try again to weaken protections against racism and bigotry.

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