Hills councillors debate race-hate law changes

The Hills councillors engaged in a lively, and sometimes heated, 40-minute debate last night on whether to support a motion to renounce any changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975.

This was part of a motion brought forward by Cr Ryan Tracey with support from councillors Tony Hay and Ray Harty.

READ THE ORIGINAL MOTION: See item 2 in this business paper.

"This new exemption will protect almost any kind of hate speech . . . [including] holocaust denial," Cr Tracey said.

But some councillors claimed it was not a matter for local government to discuss, including Cr Alan Haselden who said "this is not the forum".

Cr Ray Harty said it was important to take a stand as a matter of principle.

Councillors ultimately unanimously supported the following:

That council:

1. acknowledges, embraces and supports the diversity of the Australian community;

2. acknowledges that discrimination and vilification in any form is unacceptable; and

3. reaffirms its commitment to continue to provide services, events and activities uniformly across the community inclusive of all Hills shire residents.

Section 18C

Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 provides protection to individuals from offensive behaviour because of their race, colour, national or ethnic origin.

■ Pick up Tuesday's News for the full story, but meantime what do you think: Should the council have opposed Attorney-General George Brandis’ proposed changes to the Race Discrimination Act 1975?

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