The Keep NSW Safe coalition of communities is urging every member of the Indian and Hindu communities to send a letter to their state Member of Parliament urging the state government to overhaul the state’s race-hate legislation.
Almost 1000 letters have been submitted to date, while three organisations this week joined the coalition of ethnic organisations behind the campaign – the National Sikh Council of Australia, the Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations and the International Coptic Union.
About 35 ethnic community leaders gathered at State Parliament last week to issue a statement urging the government to honour its public commitment to introduce legislation (in the first half of 2016) to address the fact that Section 20d of the NSW Anti-Discrimination Act is ineffective.
Not a single person has been charged under the law since it was introduced over a quarter of a century ago.
“The law is weak and ineffective, and it needs to be overhauled in order to protect the people of NSW,” Keep NSW Safe spokesperson Vic Alhadeff said. “The government needs to hear from as many people as possible that this is an issue which affects and concerns us all.
“All you have to do is go to www.keepnswsafe.com and type your name and post code, and a letter will automatically be sent to your MP and the Premier.
“The government won’t change the law unless it hears from the people of NSW – which means every member of the community. We urge everyone to do it, tell your friends and family to do it and like our Facebook. Every letter can make a difference.”
The statement which the coalition of communities issued has been signed by 24 ethnic organisations, from Armenian, Hellenic, Jewish and Indian to Chinese, Hindu, Indian, Korean, Assyrian and Vietnamese.
KEEP NSW SAFE – STATEMENT
We, the undersigned, urge the NSW Government to enact legislation immediately which will keep our communities, and all people of New South Wales, safe from those who promote racist violence.
It has been proven time and again that the current law is weak and ineffective, and does not deter the promotion of violence against other Australians on the basis of their race, colour, descent or national, ethnic or ethno-religious origin.
The NSW Government has acknowledged this failure. The current law does not effectively reach those who set out to promote racist violence.
Our government needs to act now, before we again see serious racist violence committed in NSW that could otherwise have been prevented. Extremists who light the fuse of racist violence should be liable to arrest, prosecution and, if convicted, punishment.
In 2015 the NSW State Government made a public commitment that it would introduce legislation in the first half of 2016 which would fix the failures of the current law. We are disappointed that that commitment has not yet been honoured.
This is not about freedom of speech; it’s about promotion of violence.
Merely paying lip-service to communal harmony is not good enough. Our government must instead act to preserve our peaceful way of life by changing the law to protect communities from the promotion of violence.
We urge the NSW Government to honour its commitment without further delay.
Anooshe Mushtaq, Counter Terrorism and Countering Violent Extremism Research Fellow at Info Ops Headquarters
Armenian National Committee of Australia
Assyrian Australian National Federation
Australian Egyptian Council Forum
Australian Federation of Ukrainian Organisations
Australian Hellenic Council of NSW
Australian Kurdistan Veteran (Peshmerga) Association
Australian South Sea Islanders (Port Jackson)
Basmala Australia Inc
Chinese Australian Forum
Chinese Australian Services Society LTD
Federation of Indian Associations of NSW
Hindu Council of Australia
Indian Crescent Society of Australia
International Coptic Union
Korean Garden Task Force Committee
Korean Society of Sydney
National Sikh Council of Australia
National Sikh Council of Australia
NSW Council of Christians and Jews
NSW Council for Pacific Communities
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies
Philippine Community Council of NSW, Inc.
South Asia Study Group, University of Sydney
Vietnamese Community in Australia – NSW Chapter