Wednesday, May 6, 2020

People are becoming angry about MSM & Government's arbitrary protection of so called, Chinese 'feelings"

Coronavirus-fuelled racism prompts debate on whether Australia's laws are strong enough to protect victims

Updated 42 minutes ago
A spate of coronavirus-fuelled racist attacks have sparked calls to simplify and strengthen Australia's racial discrimination and vilification processes, amid concerns they are too complicated and toothless to properly protect victims.

Key points:

  • Nation's peak legal group says access to justice is lacking for victims
  • Experts say increasing awareness about discrimination laws is fundamental
  • SA Senator Stirling Griff wants to see a national strategy to combat racism
Last month, the Australian Human Rights Commission revealed one in four people who reported racial discrimination in February and March linked it to the coronavirus pandemic.
Members of Australia's Asian community appear to have borne the brunt of attacks and vilification.
The Law Council of Australia is worried the perennial issue of a lack of legal aid funding is a hurdle for people wanting support navigating red tape, given only 3 per cent of grants go towards civil cases.
James Lin was targeted while sitting on a train in Melbourne in late February, well before tough social restrictions were put in place to try to slow the spread of COVID-19 across Australia.
Four men turned on the Chinese-born Australian citizen, pretending to cough around him and hurling abuse that he must be infected as he was from overseas.
While the taunts were verbal, Mr Lin said he also felt physically intimidated by the group. A female passenger stood up for him, telling the group they were being ridiculous.
"Because that lady stood up for me, I said that it was true Aussie values," he told the ABC.
"And the racist guy said, 'this guy clearly doesn't look Aussie'."
Police were at the next station and were alerted to the group's behaviour.
Mr Lin, an auditor, considered following up the incident and making a formal complaint, but was put off.
"I found it very complicated and so time consuming to go through the whole application or complaint process," Mr Lin said.
"I looked at the website, and it said there would be a reconciliation or mediation process — but it's impossible to find those guys again."

'No one is enforcing it'

Racial attacks and harassment are covered by both criminal and civil laws.
Outside of criminal offences, such as racially motivated assaults, victims of racial abuse can make complaints to state organisations such as the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission, or federally to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
"The results or the outcome of the complaints wouldn't be effective, because those guys won't be punished or penalised or anything," Mr Lin said.
"The laws are in place, the regulations are in place, but no one is enforcing it."
The nation's peak legal group argued access to justice was lacking.
"Increasing education and awareness about these laws is fundamental," Law Council of Australia President Pauline Wright said.
"Attention should also be given to whether the Australian Human Rights Commission is appropriately resourced and empowered to carry out its investigation, complaint and conciliation functions.
"Attention is also needed as to whether the remedies which are made are currently so low as to provide a deterrent."
Ms Wright believed low numbers of interpreters and affordable legal advice were also factors that needed to be addressed.
"The proportion of legal aid grants made for civil matters is woefully low, at less than 3 per cent," she said.
On Wednesday night, Federal Attorney-General Christian Porter announced $63 million in funding for legal services to deal with an increase in demand during the coronavirus pandemic, to deal with matters such as domestic violence, tenancy and workplace disputes.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge disagreed that there were "hurdles" when it came to reporting abuse.
"It's very straightforward to report it to the Human Rights Commission and I encourage people that have faced racism to make that report.
"But if there's threats of violence, with racial undertones, in some jurisdictions that can lead to imprisonment, that's taken very seriously."
The debate over racial discrimination and vilification has a lengthy history, with much of the recent discussion being centred on an argument within the Federal Coalition about section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge said that was not an area that would be relitigated now.
"That's not part of our plans at all," he said.
Labor criticised the Coalition's track record.
"Australia has a relatively strong legal framework in this area but what we need is leadership from the Morrison Government," Shadow Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said.
"Instead, since 2013 the Liberals have fought to undermine the anti-discrimination laws, such as by twice trying to scrap the racial hate speech protections in Section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act, and have been far too slow to condemn racism and to stand up for all Australians."

Stay up-to-date on the coronavirus outbreak

When Federal Parliament returns next week, South Australian crossbench Senator Stirling Griff is hoping to move a motion asking the Senate to note the rise in racist attacks across the country and calling on "the Government to implement a national strategy to combat racism".
"We will be running some information campaigns as well, stating that racism is unacceptable and offering guidance as to how people might be able to report if they are facing racist attacks," Mr Tudge said.

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