PM Turnbull offered ‘reasonable-person test’ for Racial Discrimination Act reform

In an effort to bridge the divide, Ms Fierravani-Wells has offered a way to end the deadlock which is based on what the “average person” thinks.


The proposal to reform Section 18C of the Act would include a test of what the average Australian thinks constitutes vicious racial vilification.

“It is a win-win situation,” International Development Minister Concetta Fierravanti-Wells wrote in The Australian on Tuesday.

“It would act to eliminate frivolous action but also protect Australians from vicious racial vilification.”


She added that as it currently stood there was “no test by which conduct under the act is measured”.

“There should be an additional clause inserted into section 18 of the act to include the reasonable-person test.  

“It would give bodies such as the Human Rights Commission an appropriate benchmark and framework for dealing with complaints including trivial and vexatious ones,” she said.

Labor frontbencher Matt Thistlethwaite said the opposition did not see the need to change 18C.

“I believe that it works well. I believe that it serves a purpose of generating racial harmony, promoting diversity and multiculturalism in our community,” he told Sky News.

Many conservative government MPs are still championing changes to Australia’s race hate speech laws, despite a parliamentary committee’s recent report recommending no reform to Section 18C, which makes it an offence to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone based on their race.

The joint committee on human rights made 22 recommendations which are now to be considered by the federal government.