ECCNSW response to changes to the Racial Discrimination Act

by Esther Lozano - Tuesday, 21 March 2017

“The 21st of March represents the commitment of Australia and other countries around the world to a pluralistic and multicultural future. 
 
 It takes its rise from the Sharpeville massacre that took place during Apartheid South Africa which occurred on the 21st of March 1960. This saw a military response to a civil rights movement and since that date has been acknowledged as the day that freedom from racial discrimination is maintained as a human right. Today, despite indications to the contrary the Federal Government introduced changes to the national Racial Discrimination Act which if effectuated has the capacity to alter the framework of racial vilification and discrimination in Australia. 
 
Today, on Harmony Day, the day in which many nations around the world show their commitment to preserve racial harmony, the Australian government saw fit to initiate a change to the act that has that very purpose. It is a shameful day for Australia and a shameful day for the preservation of the pluralistic society that has so carefully been assembled in this country. Furthermore, the method of change, and the way the Australian government has pandered to right wing elements within its ranks would make both Gough Whitlam and Malcolm Frasier turn in their graves. 
 
This is not a political debate; this is a debate about what we want to be as a country. Hijacking this critical question in a political context is not only irresponsible but also dangerous. The Ethnic Communities’ Council of NSW, as the peak body representing multicultural communities in our state, will stand with our national Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils in opposing this change to the Racial Discrimination Act and will work to maintain the protections and preservations of Australia as a pluralist society in which multiculturalism is protected, and bigotry is challenged. 
 
We call on the Australian government to reconsider this decision. In the meantime, we will work immediately with our members to arrange a grass roots campaign against these changes to reinstate the now denigrated position of Australia as a beacon of multiculturalism in the world. 
 
We welcome the comments and assistance of our members on this historic day which shows us that the fight for genuine equality and for genuine multiculturalism goes on.”
 
Happy Harmony Day,
 
Peter Doukas
Chair