Speech to UN Human Rights Council (By videolink)
19 March 2018
Whether it is prejudice, intolerance or discrimination, there can be no place for racism in the society of nations. As we mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination, let us rededicate ourselves to the fight against racism.
Unfortunately, we have seen a resurgence of xenophobia and hatred. One fuelled by anxieties about immigration, diversity and identity. The values of equality and non-discrimination are coming under challenge.
Australia remains a proud and successful multicultural society. But here, too, we are vigilant about the dangers of escalating racism. Here, we have seen that when prejudice and intolerance are given endorsement in public debates, it can embolden a minority of society to vent their bigotry.
We must all defend our societies against racism. In Australia, the Racial Discrimination Act continues to serve as our society’s statement against racism – to set a standard for public conduct, and ensure that any discrimination or hatred can be held to account under the law. Through our work in education and advocacy, we continue to start conversations about racism – what it is, and how we can respond.
This work today has grown, sadly, more urgent. Given the voices promoting prejudice, bigotry and hatred, it is more important than ever that we never allow racism to made acceptable, or to become normal. The threat of racism comes at us in the form of a creeping tide. That is why we must always be prepared to reject and condemn it – not only when it is explicit and violent, but also when it is subtle and insidious.