LAWS to ban racist bumper stickers such as “Asians Out” will be re-introduced to Western Australia’s parliament but the proposed civil racial vilification legislation will not prohibit the increasingly popular declaration “F . . . Off We’re Full”.
The laws, which were originally proposed under the previous Labor government, will make it easier to penalise people who make derogatory remarks about a particular racial group in public, the workplace, in print or on the internet.
Yesterday, West Australian Equal Opportunity Commissioner Yvonne Henderson said the legislation was overdue.
When it was first introduced in late 2006 it was supported by the Liberal Party but never reached the upper house because of an early state election.
Attorney-General Christian Porter said yesterday he supported the laws and planned to reintroduce the bill this year, but other law-and-order bills were likely to take priority.
Ms Henderson said only very serious forms of racial vilification could be prosecuted under current criminal laws.
“If people see signs or stickers or posters or they see people promoting racism in a generalised way, at the moment unless it’s criminal, there’s not a lot they can do about it.”
She said people could complain to the commission about the use of derogatory language towards a particular racial group but because the “F . . . Off We’re Full” bumper stickers were not offensive to a specific group, they would not fall under the laws.
Complaints would be dealt with by the commission through mediation, where compensation or an apology could be agreed to. If an agreement could not be reached, the case would go to a tribunal where penalties could be imposed.
Ms Henderson denied the laws would impinge on freedom of speech and said the 2006 legislation included exceptions for artists, including visual artists and actors.