A short time ago, the Senate voted to pass a number of amendments to the operation of the Australian Human Rights Commission. The changes passed by the Senate include:
- Requiring the Human Rights Commission to observe the rules of natural justice;
- Raising the threshold required for the Human Rights Commission to accept a complaint;
- Providing additional powers to the Human Rights Commission to dismiss unmeritorious complaints;
- Limiting access to judicial review of unsuccessful complaints; and
- Providing disincentives against making unmeritorious appeals to the court by allowing costs to be awarded.
Sadly, the Government’s amendments to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, championed by the Movement, were amended out of the Bill by Labor, the Greens and the Nick Xenophon Team. Notwithstanding this disappointing result, we remain absolutely committed to the amendment or repealing of section 18C and our Save Free Speech campaign will continue to make the case for these important reforms.
On the whole, these changes to the law are positive and dramatically improve the operation of the Australian Human Rights Commission and somewhat reduce the threat that 18C poses to young people.
As a Movement, we can be incredibly proud of this important step in the right direction. As Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister, James McGrath, has said:
"Without the Young Liberals’ advocacy on free speech, we wouldn't have been able to move on 18C."
This is an important demonstration that as a Movement, we are highly effective at bringing about change for the betterment of young Australians.