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Statement

June 5, 2018
Statement by NSW Attorney General – Mark Speakman SC

NEW LAWS TO TARGET INCITEMENT OF VIOLENCE
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Individuals who incite or threaten violence against people based on their race, religion or sexuality will risk a three-year jail sentence under new laws to be introduced into NSW Parliament, Attorney General Mark Speakman announced today.

Mr Speakman said the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government has listened to the community and is acting to replace provisions in the Anti-Discrimination Act that have proven ineffective, allowing some people to escape punishment for vile acts that encourage violence.

“People who incite violence are a threat to community safety. If passed, these laws will help protect individuals and groups from being targeted by cowards who seek to cause physical harm to innocent people,” Mr Speakman said.

“We’re not saying people can’t have opinions or express their views, but if they cross the line into threatening and inciting violence they will not go unpunished”.

The legislation will create a new offence in the Crimes Act of publicly threatening or inciting violence against people on the grounds of race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity, intersex or HIV/AIDS status, including a maximum penalty of three years imprisonment and a fine of $11,000.

The Bill will abolish offences in the Anti-Discrimination Act that presently carry a maximum sentence of six months in prison.

“The new laws will send a very clear message to offenders that we will not tolerate behaviour which risks people’s safety simply because they belong to a particular group,” said Mr Speakman.

“In 1989, the NSW Liberals & Nationals Government was the first in Australia to introduce legislation to help protect historically targeted communities from harm. Today we’re acting again to strengthen the law and support people to go about their lives without fearing for their safety just because of who they are or what they believe,” said Mr Speakman.

“Our new laws will boost police powers allowing them to target offenders and better protect a broader range of people, including those belonging to religious groups,” Mr Speakman said.

Mr Speakman thanked the Keep NSW Safe Coalition, religious leaders and other groups for their helpful feedback on the topic, which was considered in the 2013 Legislative Council Standing Committee on Law and Justice Inquiry into racial vilification law in NSW and Stepan Kerkyasharian’s 2017 Report on consultation on serious vilification laws in NSW.

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December 13, 2017

Pledge by Opposition Leader

The Keep NSW Safe alliance of 31 community organisations and leaders welcomes the statement by NSW Opposition Leader Luke Foley that “a NSW Labor government will legislate, in our first 100 days, to strengthen the laws against hate speech and the promotion of racist violence”.

This alliance was formed to urge the NSW Government to enact legislation which will keep our communities, and all people of New South Wales, safe from those who promote racist violence.

It has been proven time and again that the current law is weak and ineffective, and does not deter the promotion of violence against other Australians on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national, ethnic or ethno-religious origin. The NSW Government has acknowledged this failure. The current law does not effectively reach those who set out to promote racist violence. Extremists who light the fuse of racist violence should be liable to arrest, prosecution and, if convicted, punishment.

In 2015 the NSW State Government made a public commitment that it would introduce legislation in the first half of 2016 which would fix the failures of the current law. This is not about freedom of speech; it’s about promotion of violence. Merely paying lip-service to communal harmony is not good enough.

Opposition Leader’s statement

NSW Labor Leader Luke Foley has accused the Berejiklian Government of pandering to Pauline Hanson by breaking its promise to reform the state’s race vilification laws.

If elected in March 2019, a Foley Labor government will show leadership and legislate to strengthen laws against hate speech in its first 100 days.

The State Government quietly announced on Monday that there were no plans to strengthen the racial vilification provisions of the state’s Anti-Discrimination Act, which it has been promising for nearly two years and four years after a cross party parliamentary committee recommended that changes be made.

The race vilification laws contained in section 20D of the Act are weak and ineffective and have not led to a single successful prosecution in 30 years.

Mr Foley said the NSW Premier’s decision not to act was forced by a faction within her government that wanted to pander to Pauline Hanson and trade preferences with the One Nation political party.

Mr Foley said he was astonished that the Premier, who’s quick to be seen at multicultural functions, had not shown the leadership to go ahead with the changes which the government has been promising for two years.

Labor’s legislation would include following features:
• Reduce the threshold for prosecutions from ‘incite’ to ‘promote’ serious racial vilification;
• Move the provisions into the Crimes Act;
• Have investigations carried out by the Police not just the Anti-Discrimination Board;
• Remove requirements of Attorney General’s consent for prosecution;
• Extend the limitation period for offences from 6 months to 12 months;
• Clarify that the offence includes quasi – public places;
• Clarify that recklessness is sufficient to constitute intention;
• Include “presumed race” in the Bill.

Quotes attributable to Labor Leader Luke Foley:

“We have seen public displays of hate – for example, a preacher urging others to kill Jewish people – yet the hate mongers just get away with it.
“I will not accept the status quo, which licences incitement to hatred and violence against ethnic minorities.
“Labor will act immediately upon coming to government.”

August 10, 2016

Keep NSW Safe is a coalition of communities which have come together to call for change to the state’s race-hate legislation. We’re asking the NSW Parliament to act to preserve our peaceful way of life by changing the law to protect communities from the promotion of violence.

We, the undersigned, urge the NSW Government to enact legislation immediately which will keep our communities, and all people of New South Wales, safe from those who promote racist violence.

It has been proven time and again that the current law is weak and ineffective, and does not deter the promotion of violence against other Australians on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national, ethnic or ethno-religious origin.

The NSW Government has acknowledged this failure. The current law does not effectively reach those who set out to promote racist violence.

Our government needs to act now, before we again see serious racist violence committed in NSW that could otherwise have been prevented. Extremists who light the fuse of racist violence should be liable to arrest, prosecution and, if convicted, punishment.

In 2015 the NSW State Government made a public commitment that it would introduce legislation in the first half of 2016 which would fix the failures of the current law. We are disappointed that that commitment has not yet been honoured.

This is not about freedom of speech; it’s about promotion of violence.

Merely paying lip-service to communal harmony is not good enough. Our government must instead act to preserve our peaceful way of life by changing the law to protect communities from the promotion of violence.

We urge the NSW Government to honour its commitment without further delay.

Signed:
Anooshe Mushtaq, Counter Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism Research Fellow
Armenian National Committee of Australia
Assyrian Australian National Federation (AANF)
Australian – Cook Islands Community Council (NSW)
Australian Egyptian Council Forum
Australian Federation of Ukranian Organisations
Australian Hellenic Council of NSW
Australian Hellenic Educational Progressive Association
Australian Kurdistan Veteran (Peshmerga) Association
Australian National Imams Council
Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson)
Basmala Australia Inc
Cambodian-Australian Welfare Council of NSW Inc
Chinese Australian Forum
Chinese Australian Services Society LTD
Federation of Indian Associations of NSW
Hindu Council of Australia
Indian Crescent Society of Australia
International Coptic Union
Korean Garden Task Force Committee
Korean Society of Sydney
National Sikh Council of Australia
Muslim Women Association
NSW Council of Christians and Jews
NSW Council for Pacific Communities
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
Nyunggai Warren Mundine AO
Philippine Community Council of NSW, Inc.
Sikh Youth Australia
South Asia Study Group, University of Sydney
Vietnamese Community in Australia – NSW Chapter

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