The Australian‘s legal affairs editor, Chris Merritt, has written about the Federal Court decision that lead to the Abbott government’s proposal to amend the Racial Discrimination Act:
Barring a sudden reversal by the Abbott government, Federal Court judge Mordecai Bromberg is about to enter an exclusive club: he will soon become one of the few judges whose rulings have led to the destruction of a body of law.
Before his 2011 ruling against News Corp Australia columnist Andrew Bolt, hundreds of claims of racial vilification had been quietly processed over 20 years using a procedure that favoured those who claimed they had been vilified. It was mostly done behind closed doors at the Australian Human Rights Commission, with only about 5 per cent of respondents braving a hearing before a court.
After Justice Bromberg’s ruling against Bolt, the notoriety of the case and the clarity of the judgment meant a much wider audience became aware of the nature of the law governing racial vilification.
That culminated in this week’s release by Attorney-General George Brandis of a draft plan that would introduce a system that would oblige the courts and the Human Rights Commission to adopt a procedure that gives priority to community standards.