NACCHO Aboriginal health, Bolt and racism: Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks on race law moves


Indigenous Coalition MP Ken Wyatt has spoken out against the repeal of legislation making it unlawful to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate on the grounds of race or ethnicity.

Mr Wyatt told Fairfax Media he feared that repealing section 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act would either disempower the vulnerable or result in a hardening of intolerant attitudes.

Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt

So it feels I’ve lost, and not just this argument. I feel now the pressure to stop resisting the Government’s plan to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the first people here — a dangerous change, which divides us according to the “race” of some of our ancestors.

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening. This time I was so bruised by Q & A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

Andrew Bolt Herald Sun (full response blog below )

Bolt was found to have contravened Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Nine aboriginal applicants brought a class-action against Bolt and the Herald and Weekly Times claiming Bolt wrote they sought professional advantage from the colour of their skin.

Aboriginal Coalition MP Ken Wyatt breaks ranks on race law moves

”Australia has come a long way in the last 30 or 40 years and what I wouldn’t like to see is a regression that allows those who have bigoted viewpoints to vilify any group of people at all,” he said.

”For me, it is about not disabling a mechanism that makes people think carefully about the vilification of anyone or any group because they know there is a deterrent,” he said.


His remarks came as Attorney-General George Brandis described the existing law as ”extremely invasive” and reaffirmed the government’s intention to ”do away” with it.

Tony Abbott vowed  in August 2012 to ”repeal section 18C in its current form” on the basis that freedom of speech should not be restrained ”just to prevent hurt feelings”. Ethnic, religious and indigenous groups have urged the government to think again, raising expectations that the words ”offend”, ”insult” and possibly ”humiliate” will be taken out of the section.

Mr Wyatt said his attitude was shaped by his 10 years’ experience in Western Australia’s equal opportunity tribunal and witnessing how ”racial vilification has significant impacts on people in ways we don’t fully appreciate”.

”I support the whole concept of free speech, but I think there are boundaries that you have to draw and this is one of them.”

He believed that section 18c encouraged mediation and parties coming together to resolve conflicts and that its repeal would result in disempowerment of vilified groups or ”greater use of litigation, which doesn’t resolve the issue at all”.

Senator Brandis has been meeting interested groups,  focusing on how to strike the balance between free speech and protection from vilification. ”The government comes down on the side of those who want to see maximum freedom of speech,” he told ABC radio on Friday.

”And, by freedom of speech, I mean people’s freedom to hold opinions and express those opinions without some bureaucrat or official or human rights body or judge telling them what they are allowed, and what they are not allowed, to say.”


STRANGE, after all I’ve been through, but Monday on the ABC may have been finally too much for me.


You see, I was denounced on Q & A — on national television — as a racist. I watched in horror as Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton falsely accused me of subjecting one of her colleagues — “very fair-skinned, like my children” — to “foul abuse … simply racial abuse”.

WILL THE ABC APOLOGISE? Blog with Andrew Bolt               

Langton falsely claimed I was a “fool” who believed in “race theories” and had “argued that (her colleague) had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal”. I had so hurt this woman she “withdrew from public life” and had given up working with students (something seemingly contradicted by the CV on her website).

FULL TRANSCRIPT: Marcia Langton’s apology               

And when Attorney-General George Brandis hotly insisted I was not racist, the ABC audience laughed in derision. Not one other panellist protested against this lynching. In fact, host Tony Jones asked Brandis to defend “those sort of facts” and Channel 9 host Lisa Wilkinson accused me of “bullying”. And all panellists agreed Brandis should drop the government’s plan to loosen the Racial Discrimination Act’s restrictions on free speech, which the RDA used to ban two of my articles. Can the Abbott Government resist the pressure from ethnic and religious groups to back off?

So it feels I’ve lost, and not just this argument. I feel now the pressure to stop resisting the Government’s plan to change the Constitution to recognise Aborigines as the first people here — a dangerous change, which divides us according to the “race” of some of our ancestors.

My wife now wants me to play safe and stop fighting this new racism, and this time I’m listening. This time I was so bruised by Q & A that I didn’t go into work on Tuesday. I couldn’t stand any sympathy — which you get only when you’re meant to feel hurt.

It was scarifying, even worse than when a Jewish human rights lawyer told a Jewish Federal Court judge that my kind of thinking was “exactly the kind of thing that led to the Nuremberg race laws” and the Holocaust — a ghastly smear published in most leading newspapers. That time, at least, half a dozen Jewish and Israeli community leaders and officials, who knew my strong support for their community, privately assured me such comments were outrageous and the attempt by a group of Aboriginal academics, artists and activists to silence me wrong.

True, none said so publicly for the next two years for fear of discrediting the RDA, which they hope protects them, yet it was some consolation.

But this?

How could I have failed so completely to convince so many people that I am actually fighting exactly what I’m accused of?

The country’s most notorious racist today is someone whose most infamous article, now banned by the Federal Court for the offence it gave “fair-skinned Aborigines”, actually argued against divisions of “race” and the fashionable insistence on racial “identity”.

It ended with a paragraph the court does not let me repeat, but which I will paraphrase as precisely as my lawyer allows: Let us go beyond racial pride. Let us go beyond black and white. Let us be proud only of being human beings set on this country together, determined to find what unites us and not to invent racist excuses to divide.

Yet I am not asking for your sympathy. My critics will say I’m getting no more than what I gave out — except, of course, this is more vile and there’s no law against abusing me, or none I’d use.

No, what’s made me saddest is the fear I’m losing and our country will be muzzled and divided on the bloody lines of race.

I worry, for instance, for the kind of person who turned up in the Q & A audience on Monday and still dared ask why so much land was being returned to Aborigines when “really we’re all here, we’re all Australians”.

He was shown the lash just used to beat me. He was corrected (rightly) for overstating the effect of land rights laws but reprimanded (wrongly) for allegedly ignoring Aboriginal disadvantage, as if he were some, you know, racist.

No panellist addressed his deepest concern, that we are indeed all in this together, yet find ourselves being formally divided by race and by people only too keen to play the race card against those who object.

Langton is an exemplar of those who use the cry of “racist” not to protect people from abuse but ideas from challenge. She’s accused even feminist Germaine Greer of a “racist attack” for criticising Langton’s support for federal intervention in Aboriginal communities.

She accused warming alarmist Tim Flannery of making a “racist assumption” in arguing wilderness was “not always safe” under Aboriginal ownership and when Labor lawyer Josh Bornstein protested, she slimed him as a racist, too: “Doodums. Did the nig nog speak back?”

And three years ago Langton wrote an article in The Age falsely claiming I believed in a “master race” and “racial hygiene” — like the Nazis.

It was a public vilification for which she privately apologised two years ago, but never publicly.

Instead, she now accuses me of this “foul abuse” of her colleague, Dr Misty Jenkins, in a column six years ago.

HER allegations are utterly false. My column, written before my now-banned articles, was on the groupthink Leftism at Melbourne University, of which I gave many examples.

I wrote: “Read the latest issue of … the university’s alumni magazine … The cover story argues that the mainly black murderers (in the Deep South) … are victims … Page two promotes Kevin Rudd’s apology … Page three announces that Davis has picked … global warming alarmist Ross Garnaut, as one of his Vice-Chancellor’s Fellows.

“Page four has a feature on Dr Misty Jenkins, a blonde and pale science PhD who calls herself Aboriginal and enthuses: ‘I was able to watch the coverage of Kevin Rudd’s (sorry) speech with tears rolling down my cheeks … Recognition of the atrocities caused by Australian government policies was well overdue’ …

“Pages six and seven boast that the university hosted Rudd’s ‘first major policy conference’ … You get the message.”

Where’s the “foul abuse”, Marcia? Where have I “argued that [Jenkins] had no right to claim that she was Aboriginal” — something I have never believed and never said of anyone?

But that’s our retribalised Australia. Criticise the opinions of someone of an ethnic minority and you’re ripe for sliming as a racist.

How dangerous this retreat to ethnic identities and what an insult to our individuality. And how blind are its prophets. Take Lisa Wilkinson, who actually uttered the most racist sentiment of the night, accusing Brandis of being a “white, able-bodied heterosexual male” suggesting this was “part of the reason why you can’t sympathise” with victims of racism.

White men can’t sympathise? Pardon?

And so today’s anti-racists become what they claim they oppose. Do I resist or run?

You can hear more about Aboriginal health and racism  at the NACCHO SUMMIT


The importance of our NACCHO member Aboriginal community controlled health services (ACCHS) is not fully recognised by governments.

The economic benefits of ACCHS has not been recognised at all.

We provide employment, income and a range of broader community benefits that mainstream health services and mainstream labour markets do not. ACCHS need more financial support from government, to provide not only quality health and wellbeing services to communities, but jobs, income and broader community economic benefits.

A good way of demonstrating how economically valuable ACCHS are is to showcase our success at a national summit.