Conservative commentator Andrew Bolt has criticised the government’s decision to scrap proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, saying Australia is being asked to 'assimilate to immigrant values'.
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Andrew Bolt has lashed out at the government's decision to dump proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, saying Australia needs to have a "frank debate" about how certain cultures integrate into Australia.
Speaking on 2GB Radio last night, Mr Bolt and fellow commentator Steve Price engaged in a long discussion around the government's decision, which was announced during a press conference about new anti-terrorism measures.
Listen to an extract of the program here:
Bolt said Mr Abbott's decision to dump the changes meant discussions about certain cultures would be unnecessarily deemed as "racist."
"To make the people who might feel picked on by the terrorism measures, which referred to Jihadists, Muslims, people from the Middle East... [Tony Abbott] is going to drop 18C so they'll feel less picked on or more defended," he said.
"But wait, don't we need a frank debate - more frank than it's been so far - into how the Islamic culture, the Muslim culture, people from certain Muslim countries in the Middle East, how they integrate here? That is a very difficult and dangerous discussion."
"Do we need laws where it’s very easy then to make that discussion be deemed racist?"
"Australia is being asked to assimilate to immigrant values, and not necessarily the healthiest ones."
He said the proposed changes to 18C would have protected free speech, referencing the case taken against him under the Racial Discrimination Act.
“As I found to my cost, the law is so broad that any discussion that some people don’t like, and can brand as being based on race, is at risk of being shut down,” he said.
Bolt went on to say that migrants to Australia had formerly been expected to assimilate to Australian values, but that had now been reversed.
"Australia is being asked to assimilate to immigrant values, and not necessarily the healthiest ones," he said. "And urged to censor, to stop, to stifle. I think this is wrong."
Later in the show, the pair mocked former NSW Premier Barry O'Farrell after he tweeted that the hosts' views were "so irrational they're almost humorous".
"Hello to Barry," Bolt said. "Pour yourself another expensive red, one you might have forgotten you actually had there."
Price added that he had "a fair bit of regard for Barry O'Farrell before that but he has just gone down a bit in my estimation."
"Anyway, we have an adult in charge of NSW now and Mike Baird is doing a great job," he said.
On last night's announcement, Bolt said he did not lay blame with Tony Abbott.
“Tony Abbott I’m not personally blaming because he did try. He found immovable forces," he said, adding that the prime minister would never have got the measures through the senate.
RDA: Government scraps proposed changes to 18C
Tony Abbott made the announcement Tuesday night that the government was dropping planned changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act during a media conference about new-counter terrorism measures.
He said Australia needed to be united in fighting terrorism threats.
"When it comes to counter-terrorism, everyone needs to be part of Team Australia. And I have to say that the government's proposals to change 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act have become a complication in that respect,” he said.
“I don't want to do anything that puts our national unity at risk at this time, and so those proposals are now off the table."
Speaking on ABC’s AM program this morning, Mr Abbott confirmed the proposed changes to 18C were "off the table."
He said he had spoken to Andrew Bolt yesterday who he "knew he would be disappointed."
Asked if the proposed changes to 18C were off the table "forever," Mr Abbott said: “It’s gone; it’s disappeared.”
"Our intention is to work as effectively as we can with the communities of Australia to to ensure we take a 'team Australia' approach to courting terrorism and building our nation," he said.
ABC's Michael Brissenden sought to clarify, saying: "so it's off the table for now," to which Abbott responded: "No, no it's off the table. It's off the table. It's gone.”