ALA backs plan for state-based racial discrimination laws

11th Jul 2014

The Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) has supported a commitment by the Victorian Opposition to replicate racial discrimination laws in state legislation if they are repealed at a federal level. 

Following the Federal Government’s proposals to amend the Racial Discrimination Act to provide watered-down protections on individuals’ rights, the Victorian Opposition has committed to legislate current federal protections on rights into state legislation. 

ALA President Geraldine Collins said Labor’s promise to amend the state-based racial discrimination legislation was a welcome development that reflected the views of the vast majority of Australians about the issue.

“The Australian Lawyers Alliance supports Labor’s commitment to amend the racial discrimination legislation at a state level to protect the rights of Victorians to live without fear of racial discrimination or vilification,” Ms Collins said.

“The Federal Government’s proposed amendments to the Racial Discrimination Act are unnecessary and inappropriate. They contradict the attitudes of the vast majority of Australians from all cultural or ethnic backgrounds who believe that insulting or humiliating people because of their race, colour or country of origin is just not acceptable.”

“If Senator Brandis succeeds in scrapping current protections under s18C, 18D and 18E of the Racial Discrimination Act, it may become necessary for all state governments to follow Labor’s commitment in Victoria and introduce similar laws in their statutes,” Ms Collins said.

“However, this will still provide only a partial solution, as federal legislation does prevail if there is an inconsistency with a State law. 

“Ultimately, retaining current federal protections is the optimal way forward.” 

The Australian Lawyers Alliance provided a submission on the proposed changes to the Act, which can be found here.

Tags: Victoria Discrimination