The Government should be praised for listening to public opinion and dropping changes to the Racial Discrimination Act, Cabinet Minister Christopher Pyne says.
The Government had wanted to lift the ban on offending, insulting or humiliating people based on racial grounds.
Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott announced the changes were off the table because they caused a “needless complication” to the Government’s proposed national security changes.
Mr Pyne has told Sky News the majority of public feedback was against changing section 18C.
“It became perfectly obvious to the Government that there was limited community support for changing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act,” he said.
“What governments do is they produce an exposure draft for legislation that they think might well be controversial, they then go through a process of public consultation.
“That’s exactly what we’ve done and we’ve listened to the Australian public. We should be getting a tick for listening rather than being criticised for changing our course.”
Crossbench Senator Bob Day has indicated that he plans to revive the proposal to change section 18C by introducing a private senator’s bill when Parliament resumes later this month.
Senator Day said on Saturday he believes free speech should be protected.
“Someone has to defend free speech. I think it’s the basis of our society and democracy that people should be free to say what they think and allow others then to determine,” he said.
“A person should not be taken to court because someone says ‘I was offended by what you said’.”
Indigenous politicians Ken Wyatt and Nova Peris welcomed the Prime Minister’s backdown, but members of the Opposition and the Greens say they are not convinced they have seen the last attempt to change race hate laws.
“I think the Abbott Government has just put the watering down of hate speech laws in the top drawer,” Opposition Leader Bill Shorten told reporters in Canberra last week.
Deputy Greens leader Adam Bandt suggested the changes are “only dead and buried for as long as the public pressure keeps up”.