Former prime minister John Howard will tell a gala dinner celebrating the Liberal Party’s 70th anniversary tonight that he strongly supports proposed changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
In a keynote speech at Melbourne’s Flemington Racecourse, Mr Howard will argue the changes are in line with the classical liberal tradition.
Defending the principle of freedom of speech, Mr Howard will take aim at critics of the changes, arguing they start with the assumption that Australia is a racist country.
Australia is not a racist nation but rather one that respects and cherishes an open and tolerant society, which should therefore uphold freedom of speech, he will say.
The changes, which have been proposed by Attorney-General George Brandis, would remove liability for “hurt feelings” for speech that offends, insults or humiliates.