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Wednesday 22 February 2017

Opinion

Australian Human Rights Commission's Discrimination - And My Reply

Paul Zanetti Saturday 26 November 2016







It took a couple of weeks, but this week I received a ‘preliminary assessment’ letter from the Australian Human Rights Commission in answer to my complaint under Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act against Linda Burney MP.

The investigator, a Ms HG Lee, has issued me a warning that it’s most likely the President of the AHRC (Gillian Triggs) will terminate my complaint without giving me the opportunity to meet with the offender and to conciliate - the stated role and obligation of the Commission, confirmed recently on the ABC 7:30 program.

From the AHRC letter (excerpts):

Section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA says that the President may decide to terminate a complaint if she is satisfied that the complaint is lacking in substance/and or misconceived.

On the basis of the information before the Commission at this time, the President’s Delegate may consider terminating the complaint under section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA.

...it is not at all clear, given the way in which section 18C has been interpreted, how the published and/or broadcast comment by Ms Burney would meet the objective test of being ‘reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate’ in all the circumstances.

It may be very difficult to argue that the comment in question would have profound and serious effects on this man or on other white men who are part of that particular group.

The Commission has not formed a concluded view on these issues under section 18D in relation to these complaints at this time as it appears that the complaints do not meet the requirements of section 18C.

If your complaint is terminated under section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA you or the person on whose behalf you lodged the complaint may apply to the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia to have the allegations decided by the court.

This contrasts with assurances given by President Triggs as recently as 7 November 2016 in the aforementioned TV interview with Leigh Sales.

Gillian Triggs: So the first obligation is to accept the complaint and then to investigate it and conciliate it.

Gillian Triggs: ...what we normally do which is investigate the facts, get a sense of what each of the parties is saying and then attempt to conciliate the matter.

Gillian Triggs: We're there because we must under our statute consider the complaint. We investigate it and try to conciliate it. Now in the course of the conciliation, we may well say to the parties, "Look, this is not looking like a substantial matter." And that will often encourage the parties to withdraw or to conciliate.

Gillian Triggs: As I say, almost all the matters we conciliate successfully and we conciliate 76 per cent of the matters that we try to conciliate…That is a primary objective of ours to try to ensure that people have got their day before the commission. They can make their argument, they can conciliate if possible.

Gillian Triggs: Because the primary function is to achieve a conciliation. So we are trying to persuade them for one side to acknowledge that perhaps a statement was unacceptable, for another to perhaps apologise. That's mainly how these matters are resolved.?

The message I got from the commission in their letter to me (below) is their obligation does not apply to ‘white men’. We have no rights, or at the very best, lesser rights than non-white men or any coloured women.

Aside from the commission’s statutory obligation, the implied warnings in the AHRC preliminary assessment letter fly in the face of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), that the best way to protect Human Rights is through the Rule of Law.

For people to be equal before the law it has been well established that :
  • The legal process should be open and accessible to all
  • A person has the right to be heard
  • The outcome of the legal process should be based on the law, not based on a person’s social status or characteristics.
All people regardless of their status and characteristics are entitled to access of legal processes to protect their legal rights.

An essential part of equality before the law in Australia is that if a complaint of discrimination is made, both the complainant and the alleged offender are entitled to present their side of the story.

My complaint is based on race hatred, emanating from a comment by a member of the federal parliament, who attacked a group of people based solely on the colour of their skin (and age and sex).

So while sexism and ageism were also used in Ms Burney’s offensive comments I can only complain about the ‘white men’ bit under the RDA.

The bar at the AHRC is much higher for a white man in Australia than for a white woman in Germany who says she faced race hatred (and can't return to Australia for that reason) from a cartoon in Australia depicting a black-skinned drunk male, as was the case in the Bill Leak cartoon complaint.

Ms Melissa Dinnison's complaint got up and was running in the AHRC. Those she named as the offenders were notifed by the commission after the complaint was deemed acceptable, at which time the defendants subsequently rallied their legal team and worked on their defence, until Ms Dinnison herself pulled out when it seemed apparent Bill Leak and the newspaper were actually going to defend themselves instead of being lectured by Ms Dinnison what is acceptable to draw and publish in future.

In stark, gobsmacking contrast, the Commission appears to be looking for a reason to terminate the complaints against Ms Burney (my estimate is at around 20 or more, although no figure has been given by the commission).

Immediate termination of the grievances of so many complainants and refusal to conciliate opens the Australian Human Rights Commission itself to charges of discrimination.

Should my complaint be terminated without just cause (and there is no apparent reason under law or case), I will subsequently lodge a complaint against the AHRC for discrimination and join the President, Gillian Triggs in the action.

For this I’ll need wide support, as President Triggs will likely try to terminate such a complaint against her commission and herself, but that would be prejudicial, wouldn't it, so she would need to stand down.

It could possibly mean the case will then move to the Federal Court, with expensive lawyers and senior counsels. For a court case against the commission and Ms Triggs - should it get to that - I’ll need a fighting fund, which I’ll set up.

Free speech is close to the bone for me, having been targetted, for a cartoon I drew in 2009 highlighting the abuse of aboriginal children in remote communities.

The cartoon was taken to the AHRC under 18C and after two years of to-ing and fro-ing in the commission, the lawyers for the publication advised for a settlement (capitulation) in the conciliation process because a failure to remit to the complainant would result in a lengthy and expensive court  case, which the paper, a small regional newspaper, desperately wanted to avoid.

It seems the exemption (Section 18D) could not be, or was not, relied upon for some reason, even though my cartoon meets the 18D exemptions, which only shows what a farce the so-called free speech 18D exemption is.

My livelihood is subsequently jeopardised, as is anybody’s who relies on free speech to raise important issues. This can’t continue.

Too many public (and hushed-up) cases have resulted in over $500,000 of ‘go away money’ to opportunists, showing the law to be an ass.

Race hate stops with everyone, especially politicians. This complaint is about an offensive comment based on skin colour by someone in a prominent, powerful and privileged position who ought to know better.

My proposed resolution is a reasonable one, and one within the role and duty of the AHRC - an easy fix, something I thought hard about, that will do some good for aboriginal kids, if the AHRC and Linda Burney are up for it.

Here’s the response from the AHRC and my reply filed yesterday (below).

Dear Mr Zanetti

Preliminary Assessment
The Commission has received a complaint from you and a number of other people against Ms Linda Burney alleging racial hatred under the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) (RDA).

Single inquiry
Section 46PF(2) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth) (AHRCA) states that if the President thinks that 2 or more complaints arise out of the same or substantially the same circumstances or subject, the President may hold a single inquiry in relation to those complaints.

As the complaints by you and a number of others all arise out of a comment that is reported to have been made by Ms Burney and all claim racial hatred in relation to this comment, the President’s Delegate has decided to hold a single inquiry into these complaints.

All of the information that has been provided to the Commission to date in relation to these complaints has been reviewed. I am writing to advise you of the current assessment of these complaints and provide you with the opportunity to provide further information in support of your complaint, if you wish to do so.

The complaints
The complainants in this matter are all male and have individually described themselves in various ways including, white, fair skin, Caucasian, Anglo Saxon, Anglo Celtic, Celtic, Australian, Welsh, Maltese, German, British, European Jewish, Italian, Polish, European, Irish, Greek and Austrian.

The complainants allege that Ms Burney has engaged in an act of racial hatred by making the following comment to reporters on 9 November 2016 which has been published in a number of media outlets, including in The Australian, Daily Mail Australia and www.news.com.au:

“It astounds me that the people that are advocating for the removal of 18C are basically white men of a certain age that have never experienced racial discrimination in their life.”

It is also alleged that Ms Burney made the same comment on Radio 2GB on 10 November 2016.

The complainants variously state that they were offended, insulted, humiliated and/or intimidated by the comment and that they considered themselves to be of the age group referred to in the comment. Some complainants also state that they have been critical of 18C. A number of the complainants assert that they have experienced discrimination in their life.

Current assessment
Section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA says that the President may decide to terminate a complaint if she is satisfied that the complaint is lacking in substance/and or misconceived.

On the basis of the information before the Commission at this time, the President’s Delegate may consider terminating the complaint under section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA. The reasons for this assessment are explained below.

Reasons for current assessment
Section 18C of the RDA covers offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin and as you are aware provides that:

(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.

It appears that the ‘act’ being complained about is the comment reportedly made by Ms Burney to journalists which was then published or broadcast by various media outlets on 9 November 2016 and 10 November 2016 respectively. It appears that this act was done otherwise than in private.

The objective test
A key issue to consider is whether there is any information to support a contention that the comment reportedly made by Ms Burney is reasonably likely in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people (s 18C(1)(a) of the RDA).

The test of whether an act is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a person or group of people is an objective one. That is, if a matter proceeded to court the question to be considered is not whether the person making the complaint was offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated, but rather, whether the acts complained of were reasonably likely to have that effect on the person making the complaint or the relevant group of people.

A key case which considered this objective test is Creek v Cairns Post Pty Ltd (Creek).1 In Creek, the court determined that the act in question must have ‘profound and serious effects, not to be likened to mere slights’.

2 In the case of Bryant v Queensland Newspaper Pty Ltd,3 Sir Ronald Wilson stated that ‘the notion of “hatred”, although not used in s 18C itself, suggests that the section allows a fair degree of journalistic licence, including the use of flamboyant or colloquial language’. Sir Ronald stated that words could convey racial hatred if they were ‘plainly malicious or scurrilous, designed to foster hatred or antipathy in the reader’.

I understand that the complainants state that they were offended by the comment in question. However, it is not at all clear, given the way in which section 18C has been interpreted, how the published and/or broadcast comment by Ms Burney would meet the objective test of being ‘reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate’ in all the circumstances.

Less than two thirds of complainants said that they were people who had experienced discrimination themselves. It is difficult to see how the remainder of complainants could reasonably claim to be part of a group that would be reasonably likely to be offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the comments.

Of the group who claimed to have experienced discrimination, only around a third said that they were critical of section 18C. Only one complainant said that he had advocated for the repeal of section 18C and had experienced discrimination himself. Even in relation to this person, the most that could be said is that he considered that Ms Burney was wrong in thinking that a group of people of which he was a part had never experienced discrimination.

It may be very difficult to argue that the comment in question would have profound and serious effects on this man or on other white men who are part of that particular group.

Other issues
Even if it is possible to establish that Ms Burney’s comment was reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate a relevant group, potentially a group comprising white men of a certain age who were advocating for the removal of section 18C and who had experienced discrimination themselves, the comment may still come within the defences in section 18D.

The exemption in section 18D would apply for example if Ms Burney’s comment was made reasonably and in good faith in the course of a discussion or debate held for a genuine purpose in the public interest. Similarly, the exemption would apply if Ms Burney’s comment was made reasonably and in good faith in the course of making or publishing a fair comment on a matter of public interest and if the comment was an expression of a genuine belief held by her.

The Commission has not formed a concluded view on these issues under section 18D in relation to these complaints at this time as it appears that the complaints do not meet the requirements of section 18C.

Possible next steps
If you want to continue with your complaint

If after reviewing this letter you want to continue with your complaint, please confirm this by contacting me by Friday, 9 December 2016.

If you want to provide further information in support of your complaint you should also do so by Friday, 9 December 2016.

Any additional information you provide will be considered and the President’s Delegate will then make a decision about your complaint. 5

If your complaint is terminated under section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA you or the person on whose behalf you lodged the complaint may apply to the Federal Circuit Court or the Federal Court of Australia to have the allegations decided by the court.

If you do not contact the Commission

If I do not hear from you by Friday, 9 December 2016, the President’s Delegate may decide to close your complaint on the basis that she is satisfied you do not want to continue with the complaint. If your complaint is closed on this basis, you will not be able to make an application to have the allegations decided by the court.

Who should you contact?
If you have any questions about this letter, please contact me on the numbers/email below.

Yours sincerely


HJ Lee
A/Principal Investigator/Conciliator


My reply


Dear Ms Lee,

I am in receipt of your preliminary assessment letter  attached to your email of the 23rd November 2016. I am responding to your request by both emailed letter and subsequent phone call for further information.

You refer to the President’s discretion to terminate a complaint if the President is satisfied the complaint to be lacking in substance and/or misconceived.

President Triggs stated on the ABC 7:30 program on 7 November 2016 in regard to the recent high profile QUT student case,

LEIGH SALES: As Sabra Lane just reported, the Human Rights Commission has said that the bar for accepting complaints is too low but you have the power to throw out complaints that are trivial, vexatious and lacking in substance. Why didn't you do that sooner in the QUT case?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Perhaps I can first explain that the commission is bound to accept any complaint that is in writing that alleges a breach of the discrimination law.

So the first obligation is to accept the complaint and then to investigate it and conciliate it.


On that particular matter and I have to remind you that this is still before the Federal Court against the university and one student and others but what we did was do what we normally do which is investigate the facts, get a sense of what each of the parties is saying and then attempt to conciliate the matter.

As publicly stated, by the President of the HRC, Ms Triggs has an obligation to accept the complaint then to investigate and conciliate.

In my own case, it is neither acceptable nor satisfactory for President Triggs to make an exception to her obligation, flagged in your letter of 23 November 2016, nor without consideration to what it is I am requesting to remedy the offence – a very reasonable solution. My complaint is founded on genuine grounds based on the law with a reasonable and workable solution as provided by the Commission’s process.

I will come to some of your flawed reasoning for termination in a moment.

In her TV interview President Triggs went on to elaborate her position:

LEIGH SALES: But why early in the process did you not determine that it was vexatious and a waste of time as the court found?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, the court found that there was no reasonable prospect of reaching the standard that the Federal Court has adopted over a number of years.

LEIGH SALES: So the Human Rights Commission must have been aware it wouldn't meet that standard?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, we could have made that judgement about what a court might do but that misunderstands our role. Our role is not a court. We are there to, in effect, stop matters going to the court.


As I mentioned to you yesterday, if the matter is terminated I reserve my right to proceed the matter to the Federal Circuit Court, something the AHRC can and should seek to avoid, after all, that’s the stated role of the Commission. I would prefer the matter be conciliated within the role and duty of the Commission

Further to the interview:

LEIGH SALES: But why wouldn't the Human Rights Commission come to the same view as the court when it's your job to try to prevent things from reaching the court?
You must have been trying to second guess what the court is likely to think?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: No, that is exactly what we're not doing. We're not there to second guess what a court will do. We're there because we must under our statute consider the complaint. We investigate it and try to conciliate it. Now in the course of the conciliation, we may well say to the parties, "Look, this is not looking like a substantial matter." And that will often encourage the parties to withdraw or to conciliate.

In my case, the complaint against Ms Linda Burney MP is a substantial matter, which is underscored by your own letter which refers to numerous complaints from a range of racial backgrounds including complainants who,

“…have individually described themselves in various ways including, white, fair skin, Caucasian, Anglo Saxon, Anglo Celtic, Celtic, Australian, Welsh, Maltese, German, British, European Jewish, Italian, Polish, European, Irish, Greek and Austrian.”

This indicates around 20 complainants, and possibly more, who have lodged complaints against Ms Burney’s statement.

President Triggs further adds:

GILLIAN TRIGGS: No, it's not fair at all. As I say, almost all the matters we conciliate successfully and we conciliate 76 per cent of the matters that we try to conciliate.

Most of these matters are resolved within four months….…That is a primary objective of ours to try to ensure that people have got their day before the commission. They can make their argument, they can conciliate if possible. If they can't they have the choice but if I can say, barely 1 or 2 per cent of people ever go to court.


LEIGH SALES: I don't mean to labour this point but I just want some clarity around it. If your job is to try to prevent things from ending up in court, then let me ask again, why is it not the responsibility of the Human Rights Commission to make an assessment that this is not going to be successful in court, so therefore why are we wasting time about whether people can agree or disagree or whatever?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Because the primary function is to achieve a conciliation.

In other words, we have 20,000, 22,000 matters coming through every year. Of course we don't want them going to court mainly because most Australians can't afford to go near the Federal Court.

So we are trying to persuade them for one side to acknowledge that perhaps a statement was unacceptable, for another to perhaps apologise.

That's mainly how these matters are resolved.


That’s exactly what I am seeking in my own case. Nothing more or nothing less than the same rights given to any complainant who has faced racial hatred on the basis of their skin colour.

In regard to the public comment by Ms Burney:

"It astounds me that the people that are advocating for the removal of 18C are basically white men of a certain age that have never experienced racial discrimination in their life."

These comments were designed to shut down debate on the repeal (removal) of 18C by dismissing the view of a person based solely and only on their skin colour, (sex and age). For the purpose of 18C we can only refer to the racial part of the comment.

The comment evokes race hated. But worse, it’s race hate by a person of power and privilege, someone who is a publicly elected representative of the Australian parliament. Ms Burney has used her position, not to debate the issue, but to intimidate a group based on skin colour, causing humiliation and offence.

For this reason 18C applies, because the inflammatory race based comments from Ms Burney were not needed to argue her case. Supporters of 18C, including Ms Burney’s parliamentary colleagues, have argued the case for the retention of 18C without resorting to skin colour.

Race hate laws as they stand must be applied to all, not only to some, regardless of skin colour.

My Case

I also make the point that I have personally been subjected to an 18C complaint

In July 2009 I drew a cartoon bringing attention to the welfare of indigenous children. The cartoon was based on a then-released Productivity Commission Report into Indigenous Disadvantage, specifically that aboriginal children in remote areas are up to 11 times more likely to be sexually and physically abused (than non-indigenous kids), mostly by their own family - in particular male members. My cartoon was drawn to highlight these risks to these unfortunate children.

I was not given protection under 18D and the paper chose, after 2 years to relent to some of the complainant’s demands, only to avoid further legal costs.

This process formed my position that 18C must be repealed. It does not always offer protection for artistic works and genuinely held beliefs. Further, I am a white man of the age referred to in Ms Burney’s comment (who has been discriminated against and faced race hate through my life due to my ethnic background). I am 55 years of age.

Her belief that the “…people…advocating for the removal of 18C are…white men of a certain age that have never experienced racial discrimination in their life,” is blatantly untrue.

In my own case, I’ve been targeted as a ‘wog’, ‘dago’, ’spaghetti-muncher’, ‘greazeball’, ‘bloody Itie’, among other race-based terms of hatred - those are just the printable ones. I faced challenges with a surname that was a lightning rod for racists.

As an aspirational cartoonist at age 16, with a standout wog name in the late 1970s and early ’80s I seriously considered signing my cartoons with an Anglo nickname.

Ms Burney’s statement is a blanket sweeping statement that is not only designed to malign a group based on their skin colour but is unfounded.

Section 18D in relation to Ms Burney

Ms Burney may claim she has protection under 18D, as she has inferred in news coverage of my complaint.

However her argument collapses because she was aware, or had to be aware of, non-white men who have publicly called for the repeal of Section 18C.  For Ms Burney to argue her 18D defence she has to have made her statement and genuinely believed it to be true at the time.

Indigenous leader Warren Mundine, a member of the Bundjalung people, a former National President of the ALP and the head of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council, has pushed for an overhaul of 18C which he says has “overstepped the line.”

His position was made public days before Ms Burney’s statement, during a week of intense public coverage and comment of the repeal of 18C.

Mr Mundine said 18C does not contribute to racial harmony, but instead is acting as a force for social division. He is quoted as saying, “It (18C) is going to stop freedom of speech and I believe it has to be reformed”, calling for “immediate action.”

Mr Mundine’s position was widely reported. It would be disingenuous of Ms Burney to claim she is not aware of Mr Mundine or his views, considering both their high profile positions as aboriginals and in the Labor party.

Therefore, Ms Burney’s statement was not an expression of her genuine belief, nor was it an accurate report on a matter of public interest. Neither was it an artistic performance or work, nor was it genuine in its purpose for the public interest.

Ms Burney’s statement was purely racist (as well as sexist and ageist).

On the question whether my complaint is genuine or frivolous, and whether the President is seeking to terminate on that ground, I make the point this complaint is genuine and serious.

I am a white man who belongs to a group of people who were targeted by a prominent and powerful member of parliament based on skin colour (and age and sex). I fall well within that group.

In regard to a particular section of your letter:

I understand that the complainants state that they were offended by the comment in question. However, it is not at all clear, given the way in which section 18C has been interpreted, how the published and/or broadcast comment by Ms Burney would meet the objective test of being ‘reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate’ in all the circumstances.

Less than two thirds of complainants said that they were people who had experienced discrimination themselves. It is difficult to see how the remainder of complainants could reasonably claim to be part of a group that would be reasonably likely to be offended, insulted, humiliated or intimidated by the comments.

Of the group who claimed to have experienced discrimination, only around a third said that they were critical of section 18C. Only one complainant said that he had advocated for the repeal of section 18C and had experienced discrimination himself. Even in relation to this person, the most that could be said is that he considered that Ms Burney was wrong in thinking that a group of people of which he was a part had never experienced discrimination.

It may be very difficult to argue that the comment in question would have profound and serious effects on this man or on other white men who are part of that particular group.


It’s not the role of the AHRC to rewrite the Racial Discrimination Act. Nor does it have the power to do so. The role of the AHRC is to administer the Act.

There is nothing in 18C that even remotely states that the group or individual must suffer profound and serious effects.

Section 18C in its entirety reads:

RACIAL DISCRIMINATION ACT 1975 - SECT 18C

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.

Section 18C is very clear.  One does not need to demonstrate or prove profound suffering and serious effects, nor can a complaint be terminated on the ground of not being able to demonstrate profound suffering or serious effects.

This flagged ground for termination is not plausible nor has any basis in law under 18C which is the law being referred to

The Bill Leak Case

I bring to your attention the recent Bill Leak cartoon, which was also the subject of a complaint under 18C. The threshold standard seems to have been much lower for that complainant than for myself.

Bill Leak drew three aborigines, a figure of authority (police officer), a teenager and a drunken male holding a can of beer.

The complainant, a white skinned woman named Melissa Dinison, claimed she faced racial hatred as a result of the cartoon that depicted dark skinned males, one of whom was a delinquent drunk.

If the AHRC can accept a white skinned woman’s complaint that she was stereotyped or targeted in the cartoon as a dark skinned drunken male, the threshold for my own complaint is much higher.

I am a white man of a certain age – as actually targeted by Ms Burney for shutting down, intimidated and humiliated, based on skin colour, causing offence.

In your referred Bryant v Queensland Newspaper Pty Ltd,3 Sir Ronald Wilson stated that words could convey racial hatred if they were ‘plainly malicious or scurrilous, designed to foster hatred or antipathy in the reader’.

In Ms Burney’s case this is unequivocal and inarguable.

Ms Burney’s comments tick all the 18C and Common Law boxes yet does not fit the 18D exemption.  

Remedy

I am seeking conciliation with Ms Burney via the AHRC.

For this conciliation I am asking for a retraction of her statement and an apology and a personal donation of $10,000 to one of the not for profit organisations whose work is directed to the improvement of conditions for aboriginal children.

I am happy for Ms Burney to nominate the charity and forward a personal cheque to the Australian Human Rights Commission acting as the agent between Ms Burney and the charitable organisation.

The apology does not need to be in writing, but It must be a genuine and sincere public apology, whether on the floor of the parliament or at a reasonably sized media conference, as per her original offensive statement.

Ms Burney cannot claim that she called a press conference and nobody showed and she made an apology to nobody. Any disingenuous or mock apology is not acceptable.

It is not my intention to punish Ms Burney, but to educate her, while doing some good for disadvantaged indigenous children.

Racism and race hatred stops with all of us, regardless of skin colour. Race hatred is a two way street.

I look forward to your reply and the further satisfactory progress of this matter.

Yours sincerely,

Paul Zanetti

(I'll keep readers updated with further progress. Over to the AHRC now)


Addendum, Monday 28 November 2016

 

 

 

Dear Ms Lee,

 

Further to my previous letter, I would like to add the following addendum.

 

Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986

11  Functions of Commission

   (1)  The functions of the Commission are:

                     (a)  such functions as are conferred on the Commission by the Age Discrimination Act 2004, the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, the Racial Discrimination Act 1975, the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 or any other enactment; and

                    (aa)  to inquire into, and attempt to conciliate, complaints of unlawful discrimination; and

                   (ab)  to deal with complaints lodged under Part IIC; and

                      (f)  to inquire into any act or practice that may be inconsistent with or contrary to any human right, and:

                              (i)  where the Commission considers it appropriate to do so—to endeavour, by conciliation, to effect a settlement of the matters that gave rise to the inquiry; and

As previously mentioned, my complaint is not frivolous, vexatious nor lacking in substance nor misconceived as alluded to in your letter re: Section 46PH(1)(c) of the AHRCA, no more so than the Bill Leak or the QUT cases which were recently widely reported, accepted by the commission for further investigation and conciliation.
 
There is no arguable basis for inconsistency by the commission in dealing with and conciliating my case. The fact that I am a white male is not enough for seeking dismissal of the complaint, in fact opens the commission and its delegates and officers open to charges and perception of inconsistency, bias and discrimination.
 
My complaint fits within the boundaries of section 18C of the RDA and is supported by the AHRCA.
 
Ms Burney’s comment, for reasons given in my previous correspondence, does not fit the 18D exemption.
 
Yours sincerely,
 
Paul Zanetti