Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says amending the Racial Discrimination Act is not a priority for the Government, but has not ruled out making changes in the future.
There are growing calls within the Coalition to take another look at Section 18C of the Act because they believe it is an infringement on freedom of speech.
Senior Cabinet ministers George Brandis and Marise Payne have ruled out amending the Act, but Mr Turnbull left the door open when pressed on the issue on 3AW radio in Melbourne.
“It depends how you amend it,” he said.
Mr Turnbull also noted the “worthy arguments” put forward for amendments, but said the budget remained his priority.
Earlier this week, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi outlined his intention to reintroduce a bill to remove the words “offend” and “insult” from the act, after it did not go to a vote in the previous Parliament.
The bill — introduced into the previous parliament in September 2014 — was co-sponsored by Senator Bernardi, Coalition colleague Dean Smith, Family First Senator Bob Day and Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm.
Senator Leyonhjelm now intends to introduce a bill to remove 18C altogether.
Under the Racial Discrimination Act, it is illegal to insult, humiliate, offend or intimidate a person or group in public, based on their race.
Section 18C (1) of the Act states that it is unlawful for a person to “do an act, otherwise than in private, if the act is reasonably likely in all the circumstances to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or group of people”.
It further states that the act would be unlawful if it is done “because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or some or all of the people in the group”.