Senate kills off Turnbull government’s changes to 18C race discrimination law

Attorney-General Senator George Brandis in the Senate at Parliament House on Tuesday 28 March 2017. Photo: Andrew Meares Photo: Andrew MearesThree years of wrangling over a section of ‘s racial discrimination laws has again amounted to naught after the Senate killed off the Turnbull government’s proposed changes late Thursday night.

A bid to amend section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and make it lawful to offend, insult and intimidate others on the basis of race was voted down by Labor, the Greens and a slew of crossbenchers, including Nick Xenophon and the Tasmanian Independent Jacqui Lambie.

Attorney-General George Brandis described the defeat as a “sad day” but Labor MPs celebrated the bill’s scuttling with frontbencher Tony Burke declaring it a victory for anyone who had experienced racism. The Independent Senator Cory Bernardi, who has led the charge to change the law since the coalition abandoned its election promise in 2014, accused the government of setting the changes up to fail accused the coalition of collaborating in a “tricky deal.” But this was immediately rejected by the Attorney-General George Brandis who said “that is not true.”

But the government will likely be more successful in passing procedural changes to how the n Human Rights Commission handles cases, which make it easier to dismiss vexatious complaints and require greater transparency toward defendants.

The government’s loudest proponents of changing section 18C suggested the issue could be revisited if further examples of the law’s problematic application came to light.

“I strongly suspect we’ll be back here debating this issue again when the next QUT students or Bill Leak case occurs,” Liberal senator James Paterson told Fairfax Media.

“And that will be their [Labor, the Greens and NXT] fault. Section 18C, which they claim to believe in, will be further discredited, and the pressure to fix it will be even greater than it is now.”

Senator Brandis told the chamber the debate took on a more “serious and indeed sinister significance” in light of Labor considering extending section 18C’s provisions to sexuality, disability and age.

“This is not primarily a debate about race. It is a debate about free speech,” Senator Brandis said. “Not a single country in the entire world has a section 18C.”

He said it was “deeply offensive and insulting” for Labor and Greens senators to suggest he supported weakening race hate laws because he was a white man.

Labor frontbencher Tony Burke who represents one of ‘s most multicultural seats in Sydney’s southwest suburbs told Fairfax Media the defeat of the bill was a victory for anyone who had experienced racism in .

“This win will be felt by anyone who has experienced racism and knows that racism is more than just words,” he said.

“Those who attempted to trivialise the damage caused by racist hate speech should hear this message and find a cause that doesn’t give licence for insults, offence and humiliation.”

Conservative Senator Cory Bernardi said he was disappointed with the result and questioned whether the government’s heart was really in it.

“The process has all the hallmarks of a tricky deal having been agreed between the government and Labor party,” he said.

“This is just lip service, the government wants to get the process changes through. The cost of that deal is no substantive reform to section 18c but who knows what the government will get in return?

“It appears the government’s intention was merely to tick and box and say ‘we tried let’s move along.’

“There was never any serious commitment to meaningful change.

“I suspect that harass was so poorly drafted that it was set up to fail,” just like last time,” he said.

A spokesman for Labor’s Penny Wong said Senator Bernardi’s claim was “categorically not true” backing the Attorney-General’s denial.

The previous coalition government led by Tony Abbott proposed a radical rewrite of the act that sparked a furious backlash amongst ethnic groups.

That triggered Mr Abbott, the then prime minister, to abandon the reform as he sought the Muslim community’s support for stronger counter-terror laws.

Senator Brandis’ defence of that proposal, with his infamous “people have the right to be bigots” speech, was considered one of the factors in why the change failed to generate any broad support within the community.

The free-market think tank, the Institute of Public Affairs urged the Coalition to take to the next election a policy to amend the section 18C.

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Tigers respond to burn Pies after lacklustre first half

RICHMOND 2.4 3.5 9.8 14.15 (99) COLLINGWOOD 2.4 4.9 7.13 11.14 (80) GOALS – Richmond: Lennon 2, Martin 2, Riewoldt 2, Cotchin 2, Ellis, Butler, Rioli, Caddy, Edwards, Grigg. Collingwood: Hoskin-Elliott 3, Treloar 2, White 2, Grundy, Mayne, Moore, Broomhead. BEST – Richmond: Cotchin, Martin, Rance, Houli.Collingwood: Grundy, Treloar, Pendlebury, Adams, Grundy. UMPIRES Schmitt, Kamolins, Deboy. CROWD 58,236 at MCG

Nathan Buckley could only lash out in the coaches box in frustration as Collingwood remained winless, this time their poor goal kicking to blame for a 19-point loss to Richmond on Thursday night.

Where the Magpies’ woes had been their sloppy disposal when heading into attacking 50 in a loss to the Western Bulldogs last week, they were left to lament their woeful conversion rate on this occasion at the MCG, ensuring a week of intense public scrutiny.

Fighting to retain his job, Buckley must now find a way for the Pies to regain their groove, with finals contenders Sydney (SCG) on Friday night, St Kilda (Etihad Stadium), Essendon (MCG) and Geelong (MCG) to come over the next month. The Pies led by 10 points at half-time but that would have been far more had they not botched a handful of opportunities in front of goal.

Darcy Moore, Jesse White, James Aish, Alex Fasolo and Adam Treloar would all miss shots they would be expected to convert, with even skipper Scott Pendlebury, admittedly on his right foot, spraying a running shot over the boundary.

There would be more frustration in the third term, none more obvious than when recruit Chris Mayne missed from about 20m out in front of goal, after the former Docker – who has had the yips in recent years – had done the hard work by successfully tackling Alex Rance. It was a telling miss. Fasolo, who had a dirty night, would later botch a set shot from 35m. This was enough to make any coach slip into a rage, and Buckley’s feelings were clear when he swiped at his desk in anger.

After an arm-wrestle in the first half, the Tigers made their run from late in the third term, incidentally after key forward-ruckman Ben Griffiths was helped from the field after landing heavily in a marking contest on the wing. He was clearly dazed and did not return.

Trailing by a game-high 17 points, the Tigers – despite the best efforts of indefatigable Pies ruckman Brodie Grundy – would respond to lead by seven points at the final change. The Tigers’ tackling pressure, as was the case against Carlton a week earlier, was instrumental in their comeback, as they outworked their opponents.

Dustin Martin may not have been as brilliant as he was against the Blues but he played a key role, whether that be through the midfield or up forward. His strong mark and successful snap with less than six minutes remaining would ice the win.

Adam Treloar found plenty of the ball for the Pies, so, too, did Trent Cotchin, who was brilliant. He would finish with 26 disposals, two goals, seven clearances and seven tackles. Dion Prestia was also busy with 24 disposals but his kicking percentage was poor. The Pies showed plenty of fight in the final term, with Will Hoskin-Elliott contributing three goals, but the Tigers responded in fine style.

“Collingwood are a fantastic side .. it’s just how you turn that momentum back your way. There were some fantastic efforts,” Cotchin said.

Buckley said he had been worried the Pies would struggle to run out the game after a taxing clash against the Bulldogs.

“We thought that we would struggle for legs. We felt like we really rolled out of the Bulldogs’ game and looked after the players as well as we possibly could, introduced some fresh legs in Aish and (Tim) Broomhead, went a bit smaller but, in the end, we weren’t able to maintain the rage for long enough,” he said.

When you probably shouldn’t apply for that line of credit

Houses are becoming riskier, not less affordableHousehold items you only have to clean once a yearMany off-the-plan buyers selling at a loss

Lines of credit on home loans are a relatively new product in the mortgage marketplace.

But the problem is that it can be tempting for borrowers to use them as a cash machine that they never have to repay.

But, of course, that is not the case at all because lines of credit are not free money.

Property Investment Professionals of chairman Ben Kingsley said lines of credit can have a role in the financial landscape but discipline was the name of the game.

“In the right hands, and for the right purposes, lines of credit have their place in the product suite of options available to consumers,” he said.

“But given lines of credit operate like a big credit card limit, they have the potential to be misused by some borrowers.

“So it’s important that any borrower be very disciplined about how they manage their money and they must always remind themselves ‘it’s not your money’ – it’s a loan that one day you will have to pay back.”

Lines of credit are a useful tool for sophisticated property investors, Kingsley said, who may use them to access equity to assist with funding their investment activities, such as helping to pay the deposit and various other buying costs.

Intuitive Finance managing director and mortgage broker Andrew Mirams said that lines of credit were sometimes more trouble than they were worth.

“People generally lack the financial discipline to maintain and reduce a line of credit,” he said.

“At the end of the day, a principal and interest loan with an offset account works exactly the same way, but at least you have minimum monthly principal reductions.”

He said other disadvantages of lines of credit can include paying a slightly higher interest rate due to the nature of the account being a fully operational transactional one.

Depending on the lender, and whether the line of credit is included under a professional package, establishment and ongoing administrative fees can sometimes be higher than for term loans, Mirams said.

“If you don’t manage your cash flow carefully, the compounding interest can also quickly erode your equity,” he said.

But a line of credit can be useful for people who need a financial buffer or who are looking to invest in shares, he said.

Investors running a property business also often used a line of credit as a transactional overdraft account, Mirams said, but they had to have the discipline to manage it correctly.

“Because there may be a temptation to access funds in a line of credit that aren’t necessarily going to build wealth, we generally suggest arranging one for disciplined investors looking to purchase a new property or to fund a renovation to an existing asset – both options are generally likely to see you add value to your portfolio,” Mirams said.

A modern take on the traditional Queenslander hits the Brisbane market

Nab a bargain Queenslander outside BrisbaneWhy the Queenslander love affair continuesRestored Queenslander re-affirm’s Brisbane’s affinity for the style

A strikingly modern Queenslander has hit the Brisbane property market, offering a new twist on the tried and popular design principles of the traditional northern homes.

Darren White, owner of 37 Mornington Street, aimed to rethink the Queenslander design from the ground up. “It was just: let’s build a timber house with a tin roof and make sure it catches the breezes,” he said.

By taking basic design principles and reworking them into a modern design, Mr White said his house was an way of changing what people thought of the classic Queenslander.

“It’s not traditional, he said. “It’s the Queenslander plus plus, or 2.0.”

Aside from the exaggerated red cedar timber cladding and tin roofs visible from the street, the home also features a number of traditional Queenslander features, such as high ceilings, big decks, breezeways and a gabled roof.

Space property principal Judi O’Dea said the house was a step forward for the treasured Queenslander design. “It’s a special project, he’s thought a lot about this,” she said. “It’s got such a modern feel.”

“It’s a great country house in the city.”

Mr White completed the build a year ago and had been living in the home with his partner since. Ms O’Dea said the three-level, four-bedroom house could accommodate many more.

“Families, but probably someone with a little bit older kids,” she said.

“Maybe someone who wants a bit of separation of living.

“It could be a fabulous teenage retreat, it could be for a guest, or it could be an Airbnb or rental.”

Mr White was selling because he wanted to build another new house, and while he’s not a builder by trade, he’s already thinking about his next project.

“It’s been a long project … I think with the next one, I’ll get into the building a lot more.”

The house will be auctioned at the end of April.

Barr says Phillips shows marriage equality ‘inevitable’

ACT chief minister Andrew Barr says the fact AFL Women’s superstar and Olympic medallist Erin Phillips’ marriage isn’t recognised in is shameful, but change is inevitable.

Phillips almost had a clean sweep of the inaugural AFLW awards, not only winning the premiership with the Adelaide Crows, but also claiming the Crows’ best and fairest, the AFLW’s best and fairest and the AFL Players’ Association most valuable player as well.

There was a moment when she was named the league’s best player that brought ‘s marriage laws into the spotlight.

Just like many Brownlow Medallists have, she kissed her wife in celebration.

But unlike those male footballers, Phillips and her wife Tracey Gahan’s marriage isn’t recognised in .

Barr’s one of ‘s few openly gay politicians and has long campaigned for marriage equality in , forming part of the ACT’s unsuccessful bid to legalise same-sex marriage in Canberra in 2013 only for the High Court to rule the laws unconstitutional less than a week later.

He said Phillips was an inspiration to ns with her achievements in the sporting arena.

Not only did she dominate the first AFLW season, but she’s also won a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in basketball and still plays for the Dallas Wings in the WNBA.

While her USA marriage currently isn’t recognised Down Under, the chief minister was confident marriage equality would soon be part of n law.

“In Erin Phillips we have a perfect example of why marriage equality in is an inevitability,” Barr told Fairfax Media.

“Erin is an inspiration to all ns – the best women’s footy player in the country, a world-class basketballer, an Olympian and a mother, who just happens to be in with love a woman, Tracy Gahan.

“The fact Erin and Tracy are legally married in America, but not here, is shameful.

“Erin is like so many other ns denied marriage equality – she can contribute to the heart of this nation, but this nation won’t let her legally commit her heart to the one she loves.

“It is not fair and it will change.”