Hal GP Colebatch’s latest article in The Spectator warns Turnbull of the danger to his premiership in opposing Senator Bob Day’s section 18C amendments:
Family First Senator Bob Day put forward a sensible compromise – to remove the vague words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the [Racial Discrimination] Act but to retain the words ‘humiliate’ and ‘intimidate’ in the definition of offences – words which are at least relatively justiciable.
Despite his previous support of this, Turnbull said in Question Time recently that he would not be reopening the matter, and that ‘the government has no plans to change the Racial Discrimination Act at all’. This is the man who used his forensic skills in favour of freedom of speech and expression in the Spycatcher trial.
The Day amendment is supported by a number of government Senators, and was co-sponsored by Liberal Senators Cory Bernardi and Dean Smith as well as Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm. To have such a significant revolt right at the beginning of his prime ministership would be disastrous for Turnbull and would tar him further with the Rudd-Gillard image of unstable government.