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Wednesday 22 February 2017

Opinion

My Human Rights Complaint Against Sexist, Racist, Ageist Comment By Linda Burney MP

Paul Zanetti Wednesday 9 November 2016




This morning at 7:30am AEST, I lodged a formal complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission regarding a statement by the Labor MP Linda Burney designed to intimidate, humiliate, offend and insult myself, and very likely others, on the basis of my sex, race, colour and age
.

Ms Burney made this public statement to reporters, "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."

I was shocked, stunned, hurt and offended to see and hear a publicly elected representative resorting to such a blatantly sexist, racist and ageist argument.

Her statement is not only untruthful, but unlawful.

I’ve faced a lifetime of discrimination on the basis of my ethnic background, flagged by my ‘wog’ name.  While the overwhelming majority of Australians are fair and welcoming, a small percentage have, since I was a kid, targeted me only because of my ethnicity.

Ms Burney's blanket statement that “….white men of a certain age (advocating for the  removal of 18C) have never faced racial discrimination in their life,” is as uninformed as it gets.

Ms Burney do you have stats or evidence to support your assertion?

Or were you shutting down serious debate about discrimination with discrimination?

Is only some discrimination permissible - yours?
 
I’ve never felt compelled before to go to the teacher, but seeing as you’re defending the right for me to do so, to complain about hurtful racially discrminatory comments, I’m finally exercising my right.

I’m an outspoken opponent of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, not least because I believe in responsible free speech based on truth.

In 2009 I drew a cartoon highlighting the abuse of indigenous children in remote communities. The cartoon was in response to the Productivity Commission Report into Indigenous Disadvantage which chronicled the high level of physical and sexual abuse of aboriginal kids largely by males in their own family.

The newspaper, The Kalgoorlie Miner, was taken to the AHRC by a pale skinned serial activist (I’m told) seeking monetary compensation of $10,000.

The choices for the paper were to either conciliate via the AHRC or continue a lengthy and costly case in the Federal Court.

This case has recently come to prominence on the back of the almost identical Bill Leak case. In 2011, the publisher told me the complaint had been resolved, without giving me any details.

I learned only a couple of weeks ago from the legal affairs reporter for The Australian, Chris Merritt, this settlement included the publisher agreeing to hire an indigenous cadet journalist. The paper searched high and low in journalism schools but couldn’t find one.

The paper also agreed its staff would undergo indigenous counselling, even though nobody counselled drew the cartoon, I did. I was never notified, advised, or counselled.

Greg Brown, a journalist from The Australian called me yesterday to follow up on my case, along with others where shakedowns (aka 'go away money') were part pf the complaint claims.

He advised me the AHRC states on its website the paper agreed to publish a public apology.

This again was the first I'd heard about it. Probably because it's also untrue. So many lies.

Bob Cronin, Editor In Chief of WA Newspapers (publisher of The Kalgoorlie Miner) denies the paper agreed to an apology, and has never published an apology.

Regardless, I’d draw the cartoon again in a heartbeat, counselling or not - because it was truthful.

But what Linda Burney stated wasn’t truthful. It was a lie.
 
The Australian Human Rights Commission is duty bound to accept and remedy breaches of Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. The organisation also administers the Age Discrimination Act 2004, and the Sex Discrimination Act 1984 and any imputation of any discrimination on the basis of colour, race, age and political opinion.

Fortunately, the AHRC makes it quick and easy to lodge a complaint. There’s no cost, and they promise complainants an officer of the Investigation and Conciliation Section will contact me shortly in relation to my complaint.

In the interest of openness and transparency I’ll report the progress of my case on this blog.

I ticked the following easy clickable boxes:

- I have been discriminated against because of my gender identity
- I have been discriminated against because of my race/colour
- I have experienced racial hatred
- I have been discriminated against because of my age
- I have been discriminated against because of my political opinion


I answered the following questions:

When did the alleged event occur?
 
Wednesday 9 November 2016

What happened?

Ms Burney is a member of the federal parliament and has made public comments designed to humiliate, insult, intimidate and discriminate against me on the basis of my age, gender and skin colour.

Ms Burney stated publicly to reporters, "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,"

Due to my ethnic origin and surname, I have faced racial discrimination as a child, teenager and as an adult. Despite this, I believe strongly in freedom of speech. It is my belief to respond to discrimination with counter argument, humour and satire which has led me to become a cartoonist.

I have publicly been critical of Section 18C due to its limitation on free speech. My work has also been subject of a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission in 2009 when I drew a cartoon based on the 2009 Productivity Commission report into Indigenous Disadvantage. My cartoon supported the well-being of remote aboriginal children yet became the subject of a complaint. My experience in this event largely shaped my views on Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Ms Burney made public statements on Wednesday 9 November 2016 which are deliberately designed to ridicule, silence, offend, intimidate and humiliate me.

Her public statement was untruthful and hurtful.


How do you think the complaint could be resolved?

The complaint can be resolved by a public apology from Ms Burney and financial compensation of $10,000 from Ms Burney to assuage my hurt feelings.

If you’ve also experienced racial discrimination in your life, and you’re opposed to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, and you’re a white, middle aged male, I encourage you to google ‘Australian Human Rights Commission Complaint form’.

You can easily do it on your phone while waiting for a bus, train, Uber ride, in line at the supermarket checkout, in your GP waiting room, during TV ads…fortunately the AHRC has made the complaint process a very quick, painless, simple exercise.

It takes just minutes to click, fill and submit.

I encourage you to take advantage of it.

After all, this is what Racial Discrimination Commissioner has publicly advocated we all do if we’re offended.

There’s no cost and an officer of the AHRC will contact you shortly to assist you.