Freedom of Speech Cannot be a Freedom to Racially Abuse

6 December, 2016


18C Racial Discrimination Act complaint-handling procedure should be improved but no need to repeal or tamper with 18C.

Racial Discrimination Act 1975, section 18C is in news again, and is creating quite a bit of debate, discussion and disquiet in Australia.

In 2014, the debate on it became quite intense after Federal Attorney General, Senator George Brandis, said in the Senate that “People do have a right to be bigots, you know,” and “People have the right to say things that other people would find insulting, offensive or bigoted.”

After an uproar from various groups, the plan to repeal 18C was canned by The Abbott Government in 2015.

I wrote on this matter in 2014 and my submission to the Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights is attached right at the bottom of this post. 



There is a fresh campaign to repeal 18C now, particularly after the Queensland University of Technology (QUT) students’ case and Bill Leak’s cartoon in The Australian newspaper.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has been tasked to inquire and report to Parliament on the matter specified in the Term of reference as below.

I must admit that I am not comfortable with either the QUT students’ case or Bill Leak’s Cartoon case. The former case was dismissed by the Federal Magistrate with a comment that it did not have merits (I agree with the conclusion) and the latter complaint has now been withdrawn by the complainant(s). I believe both cases had no real merit and should not have been initiated in the first instance.

This is where I believe, and agree with, the suggestions from Julian Leeser, an MP from the Coalition.


He said:

” Repealing s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act would throw the baby out with the bath water”, Mr Leeser said.  “The real problem is the process of the Australian Human Rights Commission which forces 18C complaints into an almost compulsory conciliation process, regardless of the merits of the complaint.”

Mr Leeser recommended that the Australian Human Rights Commission Act be amended so that the Commission must initially determine whether a complaint under 18C has little prospect of success.  In the event that such a determination is made, the complaint would be terminated.

The complainant could have such a determination reviewed by the Federal Court on grounds limited to jurisdictional error only. The complainant would also need to provide security for costs before exercising their right to judicial review.

“Many of the cases which have drawn wide public discussion – the Bill Leak case and the QUT Students case – may have been more swiftly determined if the Commission had been able to terminate them on the basis that they had little prospect of success”, said Mr Leeser.  “The new process I am proposing would lead to greater public confidence in the handling our racial discrimination laws and, at the same time, maintain Australia’s strong protections against racism.”


Let us see what exactly is section 18C and what is exempted from 18C (Section 18D).

Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin:

(1) It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a) the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b) the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.
(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), an act is taken not to be done in private if it:
(a) causes words, sounds, images or writing to be communicated to the public; or
(b) is done in a public place; or
(c) is done in the sight or hearing of people who are in a public place.
(3) In this section:
“Public place” includes any place to which the public have access as of right or by invitation, whether express or implied and whether or not a charge is made for admission to the place.

Exemptions: Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:

(a) in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or
(b) in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or
(c) in making or publishing:
(i) a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or
(ii) a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.
In summary, Section 18C of the Act makes it unlawful for anyone to do an act that is reasonably likely to “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” anyone because of their race colour or ethnicity. Section 18D of the Act outlines exemptions with the purpose of protecting freedom of speech. Thus, artistic works, scientific debate and fair comment on matters of public interest are exempt from section 18C, provided they are reasonable and are in good faith.

Freedom of speech vs Freedom from racial vilification:

Freedom of speech is important in a free society, but it must also be emphasized that people have a right to be free from racial vilification too.

Freedom of speech can, and is, never an absolute right. Laws applying to defamation, advertising and national security do restrict the right of freedom of speech.

Australian courts have repeatedly held that for conduct to be covered by section 18C, the conduct must involve “profound and serious” effects, not “mere slights”.

Having said that, Andrew Bolt, a conservative Journalist, was found to have breached Section 18C in regards to his article on fair-skinned Aborigines. It led to statements from Coalition leaders, promising before the 2013 Federal election to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act “in its current form”.

Australia is a success story of multiculturalism, where almost half the population was either born overseas or has a parent who was born overseas.

This is in danger, if section 18C and 18D are tampered with, repealed or diluted.

With any change with 18C and 18D, the clear line between legitimate public debate and hate speech will be removed. “Anything goes’ will become the law.

We need protection from hate speech and racial vilification because not everyone is in a position of parity to speak back to those who denigrate them on racial grounds. Not everyone is Adam Goodes, Ben Barba and Ali Abbas, who can stand up for themselves, when racially attacked or vilified.

It is important that the average person had a way of holding others accountable for racial abuse and harassment.

I did not believe that the Federal Court’s ruling in the case involving Andrew Bolt in 2011 (which was never challenged by the way of an appeal to a higher court) provides sufficient cause for dismantling part of our system and laws of racial tolerance and harmony in 2014, and despite the QUT case and Bill Leak’s Cartoon case, I still do not believe there is sufficient grounds for repeal or dilution of 18C now.

There is however the pressing need for amendment of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act on the lines of what Julian Leeser MP has suggested. 

We need to promote civility and tolerance, not bigotry, racism, racial abuse, racial vilification and racial intimidation. If Section 18C and 18D are repealed, tampered with or diluted, this is exactly what is going to happen.

I therefore do not want Section 18C repealed, tampered with or diluted, but I do not want misuse of 18C mounting cases on frivolous and trivial reasons either. “The Leeser” suggestion is a perfect method to deal with this matter.

I have had a discussion with many from various communities including Indian Australians, and know for sure that they too are opposed to the proposed repeal of Section 18C.

Freedom of speech, while important, is not absolute, superior to or nobler than protection from racist abuse and hatred.

I will be sending my submission with my opposition to the campaign to repeal or dilute 18C of RDA to; 

Committee Secretary

Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights

PO Box 6100

Parliament House

Canberra ACT 2600

By email: 

I encourage you to do your submission by FRIDAY, 9th December 2016.

Friday, December 9 is the last day for this submission.

I have attached my submission below, which will give you sufficient guidance to create your own submission by either accepting it as your own, or modifying it. 


Dr Yadu Singh

Air India’s ‘Fly to Europe the Indian way’ is a great campaign for travellers to India and Europe

Sydney/2 December, 2016

I had an opportunity to discuss various things with AIR INDIA management in Australia recently.

It is obvious that they are proactive and have a clear vision about where they want Air India to be placed at. CEO Ashwani Lohani-led Air India management is on the roll.

I was very impressed to hear about their “Fly to Europe the Indian Way” campaign, which is great for those who are travelling to India and also to those who are travelling to Europe.

If they are travelling to India from Australia, they have an option to extend their travel to 8 destinations in Europe with quite an economical package.

If they are flying to Europe from Australia, they can easily do so via India (Indian way) and see icons like Taj Mahal, without needing too much to spend on their air journey.

European destinations included are London, Rome, Milan, Frankfurt, Vienna, Madrid, Birmingham and Paris. Air India destinations in India are most major cities.

Stop over in India can be either during inbound or outbound journey. It is quite flexible..

Starting fares from Sydney or Melbourne to Europe via India are from $966 to $1272 (inclusive of all taxes). Details from Air India on 02 92833370 (Sydney number) and Travel professionals of your choice.

This offer is for limited sale until all allocated seats are sold off.

This package is quite innovative and is going to be quite attractive.

I am aware that Australia-India-Australia segment of Air India business is growing and is already profitable. This new package is going to add to Air India’s profitability. It might be worth mentioning that almost all Air India planes are the latest variety and have advanced facilities for passengers’ comfort.

I am optimistic and confident that Air India will be going strength to strength, if its management continues to come out with innovative and passenger-friendly airfares and routes.

It will add to, and multiply, the success of both Air India and India Tourism, if they can interact and work together for campaigns like this.

Dr Yadu Singh

UNESCO declares Yoga an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity


Inscribed in 2016 (11.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

The philosophy behind the ancient Indian practice of yoga has influenced various aspects of how society in India functions, whether it be in relation to areas such as health and medicine or education and the arts. Based on unifying the mind with the body and soul to allow for greater mental, spiritual and physical wellbeing, the values of yoga form a major part of the community’s ethos. Yoga consists of a series of poses, meditation, controlled breathing, word chanting and other techniques designed to help individuals build self-realization, ease any suffering they may be experiencing and allow for a state of liberation. It is practised by the young and old without discriminating against gender, class or religion and has also become popular in other parts of the world. Traditionally, yoga was transmitted using the Guru-Shishya model (master-pupil) with yoga gurus as the main custodians of associated knowledge and skills. Nowadays, yoga ashrams or hermitages provide enthusiasts with additional opportunities to learn about the traditional practice, as well as schools, universities, community centres and social media. Ancient manuscripts and scriptures are also used in the teaching and practice of yoga, and a vast range of modern literature on the subject available.


Dr Yadu








In Australia, we like ‘em blonde and bronzed. In India, it’s ‘fair and lovely’. What happens if you’re stuck in between?

John Green is an Anglo-Indian Australian actor who dreams of being cast in his favourite soap, ‘Bondi Parade’. The problem is, his coloured contacts can’t hide the fact that his skin is more brown than white. Meanwhile, his skin bleaching mum, Bronwyn, is adamant that he should be procreating with a blonde, white Aussie woman to rid the family of any sign of their ethnic heritage. You guess who he falls in love with.

This very funny play by actor (and Bollywood leading-man) Nicholas Brown and comedian Sam McCool tells a universal tale of identity, cultural assimilation and bleaching your bits.

30 November – 17 December 2016
SBW Stables Theatre
10 Nimrod Street, Kings Cross

Tickets $30 – $38

02 9332 1052
Book Now

Air India deserves Kudos

Sydney, 24 November, 2016

I wish to share two stories involving India’s national airline, Air India. These are very positive stories. Since I believe in praising good deeds, I am writing about them here.

  1. When we heard the sad, tragic and heart-breaking news of the brutal murder of Late Manmeet Sharma “Alisher” in Brisbane recently, everyone in the community was devastated. Manmeet was doing his job and there was no justification for what was done to him. His brother, Amit, and their family friend, Winnerjit Singh, travelled to Brisbane in the most difficult circumstances. They came to Australia to take the mortal remains of Late Manmeet. The sad news of this murder was in all newspapers not only of India, but also of the whole world. Air India chief, Ashwani Lohani, too read about this while travelling from Singapore to India. He felt moved. From Singapore itself, he contacted and asked Air India manager based in Sydney, Madhu Mathen, to offer free transportation of the mortal remains. This offer was conveyed to Indian High Commissioner in Australia, Navdeep Suri, who conveyed it to the family. I have direct information from people involved in this matter. Air India flew the mortal remains to India. I have no doubt that it is a real big gesture from Air India.
  2. When Value World Travel went out of business in November 2015, quite a lot of people lost their air tickets with various airlines. Many were those who had booked tickets with Air India too. Often, such bookings were made many months in advance when airfares were very cheap. After Value World fiasco, people did not have any booking and were required to book again. The airfares had gone up by 2 to 2.5 times by then. While no other airline did anything to alleviate the difficulties these passengers were facing, Air India did something which was unexpected. It was definitely a kind gesture. It offered re-booked tickets at the SAME price at which the original tickets were booked months earlier. I am aware that this gesture from Air India was hugely appreciated by the victims. When I met Air India manager in Sydney on an unrelated occasion, and enquired about it, I was pleased to hear his response. He said, “Air India is India’s national airline and its HEART is Indian. We share the pain and distress of Indians whenever and wherever it happens and try to do what we can do to help them.”

I travel with Air India, which is my favourite airline. I have always found their services to be great. I have many positive experiences, which I will write about one day.

Thank you Air India! We are proud of you!!

Thank you, Mr Madhu Mathen and thank you, Mr Ashwani Lohani.

You have our best wishes for taking Air India to new heights!

Jay Hind!!

Dr Yadu Singh

Western Union Cash Payout in India for travellers to India

I received this email (below) yesterday from Western Union Australia, which might be helpful to some people who are travelling to India. Please contact Western Union for further clarifications, if necessary.


Dear Dr Yadu Singh,

It will be great if you can share this with all your followers on twitter and FB as we are trying to help our customers in best possible way during this time.

  1. We have activated a large number of agents who should be able to payout in cash to customers. In fact a lot of post offices in India are well equipped to payout cash and have no shortage of funds. The customers can always be advised to try out any of the head post offices in the city if they are unable to get cash at other locations.
  2. Customers have an option to receive the entire amount in his bank account, the agent in India can either issue an account payee cheque to the customer or transfer the funds electronically in receivers bank account. With ATM network significantly improving, customer once has the money is his bank account can withdraw it from an ATM.
  3. Effective 19th Nov, we have also introduced a part payment feature by which the customer can receive some part of the payment in cash and balance through cheque. This will ensure that customers get some cash immediately for his urgent needs and balance amount can come to his bank account.

Please note that Western Union is the only remittance company that has a tie up with India Post.

Western Union and Demonetisation.png

Sandeep Bassin   western-union-logo

Manager, Business Development

Western Union

Level 12, 1 Margaret Street

Sydney, NSW 2000

Telephone:  +61 2 9226 9145


Dr Yadu Singh/Sydney/24 November, 2016