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Regulating Racism


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The Emergence of Racial Vilificaton Laws in Australia Human Rights Complaint-Based Regulation: The Commonwealth Approach Setting the Precedent for Australian Racial Vilification Laws: Human Rights Complaint-Based Regulation in New South Wales The Criminalisation of Racial Vilification: Western Australia Regulation by Statutory Tort: South Australia The Current Shape of Racial Vilification Laws in Australia Select Bibliography/ Index


This is an interesting and topical book. One of its most important themes is the difficulty of striking a balance between the principle of free speech and the duty of avoiding racial vilification. Separate chapters are devoted to the respective approaches of the Commonwealth, New South Wales, Western Australia and South Australia. In tracing the history of racial vilification, the author mentions the fact that the targets have included indigenous peoples and the following communities: Irish, Italian, Jewish, Vietnamese and Chinese. One example or racial vilification arose between the Greek community and the Macedonian community; the Macedonia Weekly Herald newspaper alleged that "the Greeks have brought to mankind everything that is today considered to be evil". The New South Wales Anti-Discrimination Tribunal decided that this could be justified as being in the public interest. The High Court has decided that "a narrow constitutional guarantee in relation to political discourse is implicit in the Australian constitution". There are several examples of cases, where the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has submitted to Federal Courts, complaints of vilification of aboriginal and other communities; nine out of 25 cases were successful, in one of which $55,000.00 damages were awarded. It is made clear, in connection with cases of racial vilification, that it is not necessary for the complainant to prove intention to incite hatred. In New South Wales four out of six cases in which racial vilification was proved related to aborigines. In Western Australia "boat people" were described in a pamphlet as "human trash"; this piece of vilification was the subject of court proceedings. Tasmania is represented by the case of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry and Jones v Skully, in which Commissioner Nettlefold's decision that the complainant had no standing was over-turned on appeal by the Federal Court. Patriotism and nationalism are not mentioned. The extensive "footnotes" are collected at the end of each chapter. Certain sections of the relevant legislation are frequently referred to; it is a pity that these sections are not set out verbatim. - Tasmanian Law Society Newsletter, December 2002

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