New ‘thoughtcrime’ laws for Australia

New laws may counter racist attacks

Michael Harvey: Herald Sun | June 19, 2009,21985,25657370-661,00.html

VICIOUS attacks against Indian students have prompted the Rudd Government to consider a legal crackdown on hate-mongers.

Investigations have started into creating a specific offence of inciting violence against an individual on the basis of race.

While state assault laws already deal with thugs who personally commit attacks, the potential federal changes would focus, for example, on those responsible for sending SMS messages that urge acts of violence on individuals.

Existing sedition provisions of counter-terrorism laws cover incitement on the basis of race, religion or ethnicity – but only against groups, not individuals.

Attorney-General Robert McClelland has raised the prospect of redressing the balance in response to the alarming spate of assaults on Indians in Melbourne.

This would be achieved by bringing forward a key part of the Government’s review of counter-terrorism laws.

In comments to Parliament this week, Mr McClelland said the Government was in the processing of responding to Law Reform Commission recommendations to change sedition laws.

“Currently there is at the federal level, as you would be aware, an offence of inciting violence against a group of individuals on the basis of their race, religion or ethnicity,” he said.

“As part of a response to recommendations of the Australian Law Reform Commission, the Government is examining the possibility of amending that offence to include a criterion of inciting violence against an individual on the basis of that individual’s race, religion, ethnicity or nationality.”

In 2006, the commission recommended alterations including changing the offence’s title from sedition to “urging violence” and repealing obsolete provisions.

The Brumby Government moved this month for judges to take hatred – motivated by race, religion, gender or sexual orientation – into account as an aggravating factor when considering sentences.

The following comment was submitted to the editors of the Herald Sun.

This is thoughtcrime law where a simple smack in the teeth and a deliberately false report of a racial slur will gain you a longer prison sentence than a psycho who gets their jollies brutally bashing another almost to death. To make matters worse, just like existing State and Federal Racial Vilification Laws, this law will not be used to protect all people, but will be used as a wedge placing the protected “minorities” on one side of the fence and unprotected White Australians living in fear of false accusations on the other. But then, what would you expect from governments that approve of legislation allowing discrimination against White heterosexual males in the workplace?

Cailen Cambeul of Oaklands Park, SA.

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