The Racial Discrimination Commissioner, Dr Tim Soutphommasane will fire a parting shot in his final speech in the role tonight.
Dr Soutphommasane will argue that politicians and sections of Australia’s media outlets pose the major danger to Australia’s cohesion.
Dr Soutphommasane suggests that when he first took the job five years ago, he “wouldn’t have expected that the biggest threats to racial harmony would come from within our parliaments and from sections of our media. Yet here we are.”
“This is dangerous territory,” he says. “When politicians resort to using race in advancing their agendas, they inevitably excite racial anxiety and stir up social division.”
In a written speech viewed by The Guardian, Dr Soutphommasane will also suggest that there is no major evidence to suggest that Australian multiculturalism has resulted in a fractured society.
“Complaints about anti-racism stifling free speech are about a resentment of minorities being able to speak up,” Dr Soutphommasane will argue.
“They’re the complaints of snowflakes who can’t hack it when people challenge racism.”
Dr Soutphommasane questions in the speech text whether or not Australia has gone backwards during his five years in the role. He ultimately suggests, however, that his love for the nation has not diminished.
“We reject racism because it is an assault on our values and our fellow citizens. We reject racism because it diminishes our nation.”
Controversial Sky News Segment
The parting speech comes as Sky News are under fire for hosting white supremacist Blair Cottrell. The leader of the far-right United Patriots Front appeared on an episode of former Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles’ program. Sky News’ News Director Greg Byrnes later apologised for the segment in a statement suggesting that the station did not share Cottrell’s views.
It was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia. His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms.
– Greg Byrnes, News Director
— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) August 5, 2018
The segment sparked intense criticism of the news broadcaster, and the resignation of at least one commentator.
Well done and thank you. Cannot understand how we got to this (Well, I do have some idea. 1996 was a bad year)
— Rev. Dr Brian Brown (@BrianBrownUCA) August 6, 2018
Dr Tim Soutphommasane will deliver the speech at Western Sydney University’s Whitlam Institute tonight at 6pm. The event will be livestreamed here.
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor