Senator Lambie won't back racial discrimination repeal

TASMANIAN Palmer United Party Senator Jacquie Lambie will not back changes to Australia's race discrimination laws, after a fellow crossbencher said he would push to resurrect the government's changes.

Senator Lambie, in a statement released Monday, said the current Racial Discrimination Act already "strikes the right balance" between freedom of speech and protection from discrimination.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott, in a Cabinet meeting last week, abandoned the government's promise to reform the laws in the interests of freedom of speech.

But Family First Senator Bob Day on Sunday said he would push for the changes, through a private Senator's bill he plans to introduce when sittings resume later this month.

Senator Day said he believed there was support for the changes inside the Coalition party room, and there was a need "for someone to defend freedom of speech".

But Senator Lambie said what was actually needed was "for all Australians to be treated equally".

"Just as our ethnic minorities are offered legal protection from offensive insults - so too must non-ethnic Australians be offered the same legal protection from the growing group of radicals, who go out of their way to insult, humiliate and intimidate those born under the Southern Cross," she said.

"I'm sick of watching radicals in the media (who must surely be breaking our racial discrimination laws and others) - parade in public, carrying signs with messages of hate designed to intimidate and offend on the basis of race.

"Why aren't they charged with offences or made to suffer penalties contained in our Racial Discrimination law?" she said.

While the crossbench debate rages, it remains unclear that any changes will actually get enough support to pass the Senate, with Labor opposed and the government now not pursuing the reforms.



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