18C Changes Dropped

What Starts As Bad Politics Ends As Bad Politics

I don’t know of many governments that come to power as out of touch with community values than the government we currently have in Canberra. This week they have finally abandoned plans to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Having taken this idiotic policy to the election and won the election, it must have made sense to them to push this agenda, but I can’t think of a more egregious example of having misread the electorate. Having whipped up a shitstorm of hysteria about broken promises over carbon pricing and the mining tax, it was conceivable that the Coalition had some claim to having an electoral mandate to repeal the carbon pricing system – as stupid and counter-to-history as it is – but the Racial Discrimination Act has been around for a long while now. Pushing for changes to it was not really something the electorate might have considered an important policy platform. Especially when the sole beneficiary seemed to be Andrew Bolt and people who want to be bigots.

Which, for a moment brings us to Andrew Bolt who is still smarting from his court case, whose open support of the Coalition  led to the Coalition government trying to open up some space for Andrew Bolt to essentially say bigoted things under the guise of freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is not the victim in this – it’s George Brandis’ ‘right to be a bigot’ that essentially found a lot of hostility. It only takes a moment to consider that what the Coalition was asking Australians with non-white backgrounds was that Andrew Bolt should be allowed to bad mouth people from his bully pulpit and propagate views that are hurtful to their pride because this was freedom of speech. It’s bizarre that they thought this was going to fly with the electorate. It was asking Australia to go back to ‘Kingswood Country’ with Ted Bullpit calling every immigrant a wog for laughs. You wonder how these people thought this was going to make them look good.

It’s worse than that now. Having proposed the bad changes and explained it badly, it has given the electorate a “goes-to-character” assessment of the government. the assessment would include the notion that the Coalition government, on some level, wants to protect bigots if not wanting to be bigoted racists themselves. they’re right back at when John Howard went and slammed the Asian community back in the late 80s, which is to say they haven’t changed their stripes one bit. It’s notable that the people wanting to do the change and are spitting chips about it today are white, middle aged, and private school educated. You wonder how they’d respond if you gave them the medicine of their own freedom-to-be-a-bigot asked them how many Jewish forebears they have hidden in their family tree, and if they felt tainted by that.


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