If you agree with Attorney-General George Brandis’ comment that Australians have “a right to be bigots”, the tables have turned – now you’re a minority! A Nielsen poll has shown that a whopping 88 per cent of respondents oppose the Government’s proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act.
The poll, which was published today by the Sydney Morning Herald, suggests that a large majority of Australians condemn offending, insulting or humiliating another person based on their race or ethnicity – the exact actions which would be deemed lawful if Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act is struck down.
Speaking to ABC News about the results, Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane noted that “People see no need to change laws that have been in place for almost 20 years laws which have worked well.” In fact, more than 200 multicultural and ethnic groups have already expressed their concerns to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Soutphommasane claimed the Government’s intention to change the Racial Discrimination Act was not based on any reports or inquires, but rather, to defend conservative News Corp Journalist Andrew Bolt, who was found in breach of Section 18C by a Federal Court in 2011. To the Government’s credit, Brandis has left open the possibility of amending the proposed changes to the Act, saying he is “very open to other suggestions.” Whether these suggestions will be taken on board remains to be seen in the coming weeks alongside the Government’s budget announcement.
The news comes as the Coalition Government has begun trailing the Opposition on a two-party preferred basis for the second time since taking power. Labor now leads the polls by four points.
Written by VINCENT VARNEY. Follow him on Twitter.