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Today’s media covering the Wilders visit has an article below, published in The Australian, which includes a comment I made in messages I have already circulated. Also below is a brief AAP report in the Daily Telegraph (copied in the SMH too) on the Sydney address by Wilders yesterday. As far as I can ascertain, this latter report is the only substantive one on the Sydney address. I have also included a typical ABC two-against-one debate on the World Today Program on Friday, with the one pro-Wilders speaker being (originally) a Pauline Hanson supporter!

The Australian article by journalist Chip Le Grand raises some issues not referred to elsewhere but plays down the importance of the Islamic issue for Australia. In a brief chat I had with him on Thursday I referred to the fact that, even though our Muslim population is relatively small, it contains a proportion which supports violent activity in Australia. This is brought out in ASIO annual reports and in the 25 or so convictions of Muslims for attempted violent actions. Those convictions do not tell the complete story: there has almost certainly been activity and threats which did not lead to prosecutions.

In short, while Australia has so far avoided the violent activity and deaths in countries such the USA, the UK and Spain, that reflects the success so far of costly counter-terrorist activity. One might say that we have not yet had a wake-up call. Our relevant organisations have warned that this is unlikely to be sustainable and the Judge in one case in which he handed out several sentences drew attention to the potential threat from those sentenced when they are released ie they showed no recantation.

Today’s Australian also contains two reports of the conviction in the UK of four Muslims who had been planning bombings (attached). This illustrates the threat Australia faces and that Wilders has warned about. We cannot rely on the kind of bumbling that occurred in this UK incident and that has occurred in incidents here. Indeed we cannot rule out the possibility that, at some stage in the future, an extremist Islamic group will access a nuclear weapon.

Des Moore

Does Islam pose a threat to the West?
Muslims and non-Muslims agree the issues Geert Wilders raises should be debated, but properly
(article by Chip Le Grand published in The Australian, 23-24 February 2013.)

Geert Wilders in CraigieburnIT is hard to imagine a more incongruous place for Geert Wilders to introduce himself to Australia. Beyond the edge of town, at the end of a flat, single-lane road surrounded by damp paddocks, Wilders chose a Dutch-themed wedding and reception venue for his public coming out.

On the walls hung pictures of blonde girls in traditional Dutch headgear. Beyond the dark wooden beams and lead-lined windows of the main reception room, a windmill towered absurdly into an overcast sky. The setting immediately posed a question that has nagged Wilders and his supporters throughout this visit: whether his anti-Islamic message is an ill fit with the reality of modern Australian society.

In the press conference that followed, Wilders spoke about the threat he sees Islam posing to Australia, along with every Western democracy founded on Judaeo-Christian, humanist traditions. Asked why Australia should feel threatened, given fewer than 500,000 Muslims live here among a population of more than 22 million and the nation's 200-year history of absorbing immigrants of all religions and races into a stable liberal democracy, Wilders was emphatic.

"If you think what has happened in Europe will not happen in Australia, then you are totally wrong. I am trying to tell Australian friends what happened to Europe, what the real nature of Islam is - how the Islamisation of society will change society for the worse; and it will cost not only the freedom that we cherish (but) anything that we stand for, our own culture - and how to deal with it."

His best line came in response to Victorian Premier Ted Baillieu urging Australians to ignore Wilders. "You can ignore it and sing Kumbaya all day long, but the voters will correct him in due time, I am sure."

Wilders's message here is a marginally embellished version of the stump speech he has delivered in the Dutch parliament, across Europe and in the US, Israel and Canada for the past eight years. His evocation of Passchendaele and Gallipoli in calling for Australians to demonstrate the Anzac spirit in standing firm against the threat of Islam was clearly a locally crafted pitch. But, as Dutch journalist Rob van der Wardt tells Inquirer, Wilders said from the outset he did not plan to say anything new in Australia.

Wilders is, in parliamentary terms at least, a politician on the wane. Nearly a million people voted for him in last September's Dutch elections, yet he suffered a 5.4 per cent swing against his Party for Freedom, which lost nine seats. He was able to influence policy in the last parliament as an official supporter of the government. Now he is just another Dutch MP, albeit one whose choice of platforms ensures he remains a formidable political figure.

In Australia, Wilders has been cast as a lone voice determined to tackle a subject shunned by mainstream politicians other than Liberal senator Cory Bernardi, who for two years has been encouraging Wilders to visit. With his cartoonish bouffant of peroxide hair and commanding stage presence, Wilders has a charisma lacking in Australian politics. Is there a politician in Canberra who could have drawn more than 500 people to the outer Melbourne suburb of Craigieburn to pay for the privilege of hearing them speak on a bleak Tuesday night?

The crowd was mostly old and white. There were plenty of Dutch expats and a disproportionate number of Jews. The loudest cheer was reserved for his call to stand with Israel, a country "in jihad's frontline". Many had been jostled by protesters on their way in. They shook their heads at Wilders's stories of Islamic-controlled no-go zones in European cities, of Muslims armed with Kalashnikovs firing on Belgian police, of lawless Moroccan youths terrorising The Netherlands. "I am not exaggerating," he insisted. "I tell it like it is." He described Islamic immigration as a tool of jihad, Islam as a ruthless political ideology that aimed to impose sharia on everyone. Moderate Muslims, he said, were "captives of Islam". The crowd gave Wilders a standing ovation when he walked to the stage and again when he left.

Yet what, if anything, should Australia take from Wilders's message and his policy prescription to turn back the tide of Islamisation? He calls for three things: an end to immigration from Islamic countries; an end to the construction of new mosques; and deportation of immigrants who commit crimes. The construction of mosques, although an occasionally emotive issue, is not a matter for commonwealth law. Halting immigration from Islamic countries assumes there is a lot of it. Deporting immigrants who commit crimes assumes Muslims are over-represented in crime.

The Australian experience, according to the most recent, comprehensive figures from the Department of Immigration and Citizenship, is immigrants from Islamic countries represent only 11 per cent of new settlers. In 2010-11, more than half our 127,458 arrivals came from New Zealand, China, Britain, India and South Africa. The only Islamic countries (defined as those where the official religion is Islam or legislation is based on sharia law) in Australia's top 10 were Iraq, with 2988 arrivals, and Malaysia, with 2737. Altogether 13,910 people arrived from Islamic countries, including 1027 Afghans, 271 Iranians and 190 Somalis who came as refugees. Wilders provides an exemption for refugees from Islamic countries, as many belong to minorities that don't follow Islam.

So now they are here, whom should we send home? Useful crime statistics in this context are difficult to obtain. The NSW Bureau of Crime Statistics says police data is too unreliable. In Victoria, accurate reporting of the violence against Indian students in 2009-10 was hampered by police arrest records that made no distinction between victims and perpetrators of "South Asian appearance".

The Australian Bureau of Statistics offers something of a guide in its Prisoners in Australia report, which records jail populations according to country of origin. According to the latest one, published in December, Indonesians, Lebanese, Iraqis, Sudanese and Nigerians are overrepresented in our jails. So are Vietnamese, Samoans, Papua New Guineans, Romanians and Tongans. All of them, including the 791 New Zealanders and 741 Britons jailed at the time of the survey, would be deported under Wilders's policy.

The most overrepresented group in Australian jails is Aborigines - the only lot here when Wilders's early ancestors first sailed down the West Australian coast nearly 400 years ago.

Yet even if the numbers don't add up for him, there is agreement among Muslims and non-Muslims that the issues he raises should be debated in Australia. Conservative economist Des Moore says Wilders has "brought into the public arena an issue that has not hitherto been seriously addressed at a political level. Amazingly, it has taken a leading Dutch politician ... to do this."

Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Mohamad Tabbaa says: "Absolutely, it is a discussion which needs to be had on a proper level." He is concerned, though, that Wilders is too offensive to Muslims to lead the debate, while our federal politicians are not capable of carrying it on. "Unfortunately politics in this country is not at a standard where we can have such discussions," he says.

The Q Society, which worked to bring Wilders here, believes an Australian politician will emerge who is willing to join the Dutchman's crusade. "I think we have started a discussion," says spokesman Andrew Horwood. "It will happen, it is just a matter of when. We are not the only people who are concerned."

Sydney seeing 'Islamisation', Wilders says
(article by Sam McKeith published by AAP, 22 February 2013.)

Geert Wilders in Sydney's westFIREBRAND Dutch MP Geert Wilders has told supporters in Sydney's west that the ideology of Islam is dangerous, while claiming Australia is seeing an "Islamisation" of its cities.

The far-right politician addressed the Q Society of Australia on Friday night at a function centre in Liverpool on the third leg of his controversial tour of Australia.

Protesters gathered outside the venue to voice their anger at the MP's controversial tour.

Many members of the media were blocked from entering the event, despite having being told by the ultra-conservative Q Society group that they would be allowed to attend.

However, in an extract of the speech obtained by AAP, Mr Wilders labelled Sydney as "the Australian city where Islamisation has progressed the furthest".

"This city needs to hear the truth about the dangerous ideology of Islam," Mr Wilders said.

In the speech he made disparaging remarks about the Koran, the holy book of Islam.

He said when some journalists charged him with being intolerant he replies: "I prefer the so-called intolerance of Churchill over the so-called peace of Islam."

Mr Wilders called participants in last year's riots in Sydney "al-Qaeda sympathisers", and noted that there were now more than 60 mosques across the city.

About 100 protesters, many carrying anti-Wilders placards, rallied outside the function centre before the start of the speech and chanted: "Muslims are welcome, racists are not."

Police officers, including some on horseback, ensured guests invited to the event could make it through the crowd.

Outside the event an anti-Wilders protester addressed the crowd over a loudspeaker.

"We have to make sure that these people are hounded if they try to do these things," he said.

"Thanks for helping brand Geert Wilders what he really is."

One protester, social commentator Antony Loewenstein, said Mr Wilders believed in dividing society.

"I think his message of division and hatred against Muslims is exactly the opposite of what Australians should be hearing," Mr Loewenstein told reporters.

"It's ignorant and shows a desire to exclude Muslims."

Mr Wilders is the founder and leader of the Dutch Freedom Party, which holds 15 seats in the Dutch parliament.

He cancelled a media conference and speaking engagement in Perth on Wednesday after a four-star hotel scrubbed his booking.

He received a standing ovation on Tuesday in Melbourne, where several hundred people dodged a large group of protesters to hear the first speech in his Australian tour.

The World Today with Eleanor Hall
Panel: Free speech questioned when it comes to race
(reported by Emily Bourke, 22 February 2013.)

EMILY BOURKE: The age-old debate over freedom of speech and racism reared its head this week with the speaking tour by the controversial Dutch MP, Gert Wilders.

The visit sparked protest and scuffles as the anti-Islamic politician delivered his message that Muslims should renounce their religion and that Mohammed was a warlord, a terrorist and a paedophile.

While Wilders says he's not racist and he doesn't want to incite or offend anyone, others accuse him of stirring up bigotry and spruiking the politics of hate.

At a political level, the Government's draft human rights and anti-discrimination bill is still up for debate with questions about how to protect freedom of expression while guarding against racial and religious vilification.

To discuss this, the line between freedom of speech and vilification and all the shades in between, I'm joined by Gillian Triggs, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, David Oldfield, the former politician, political advisor, now a commentator and a free speech advocate, and Keysar Trad the founder of the Islamic Friendship Association.

Gillian Triggs, if I can begin with you. The events this week with Gert Wilders and what he had to say, has he breached Australia's existing laws on religious and racial discrimination or vilification?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, I think firstly we might observe that the Minister gave Mr Wilders a visa to come to Australia which I think suggests that freedom of speech is alive and well in Australia. We know that he is saying things that are going to offend a lot of people, worry a lot of people, arguably not a very help contribution to the debate.

EMILY BOURKE: But surely he was sailing it pretty close to the wind?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: I think he was sailing it close to the wind but as you well know, the commission, he has complaints, we are responsible for hearing complaints before they go to the court. I obviously can't give you a judgement on that but I think we'd have to say that there's a risk he's sailing close to the wind.

EMILY BOURKE: Keysar Trad, you're a committee member of Muslims Australia. Do you think agreement can be reached on how hate is defined and where some might regard it as reasonable criticism; others would say it’s offensive. When you're looking at Gert Wilders remarks, can we come to an agreed term?

KEYSAR TRAD: Oh, it looks definitely we can come to an agreed term. We have been advocating free speech but at the same time a balance between free speech and protection of minorities and protection of entire society. That balance has to be reached because free speech is very important for the progress of society, to be able to criticise things and improve.

But what Gert Wilders has done is base his whole ideology on things that are not true. He's made statements that are utterly false and statements that are offensive but in a sense he's done us a great service because what's he's done is I think he has miscalculated the level of intelligence of Australian society and his comments are leading people to come to us and ask us first hand so we can tell them whether his comments are true or not and people are realising that what Wilders is doing is nothing other than cheap political opportunism and I think they are now more enlightened as a result of what he's done.

EMILY BOURKE: Gillian Triggs, is discrimination/vilification/racism in the eye of the beholder? Can you realistically have an objective definition?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: You can have an objective definition. The law, if it’s been in place for 18 years now says it must be reasonable or in all the circumstances, if one is to avoid prosecution but what's actually happened is in the very, very few cases that have ever gone before the courts. The judges have placed the standard at the most egregious level and they have said objectively, has this been an extreme or profound insult or humiliation of somebody on the grounds of race in a public place and very, very few cases succeed.

EMILY BOURKE: David Oldfield, you've had personal experience with these kinds of laws. Ten years ago a website you set up landed you in court. What happened there, what was the upshot of that?

DAVID OLDFIELD: What landed me before VCAT (Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal) or its predecessor in those days, it didn't actually land me in court as such, look as far as I'm concerned freedom of speech is one of the most important things we have in our society and it's all very well for those who threaten the freedom of speech in my view often simply to protect what is their own deceit.

We have to be very concerned about people who want to disrupt or limit freedom of speech because by simply doing so in many respects they simply want to keep the truth covered.

EMILY BOURKE: But the upshot of your case, what was the finding by VCAT, by that tribunal?

DAVID OLDFIELD: Oh well, they found essentially that the website shouldn't have had what it had. Would you like to know what the website had on it? The actual and it’s an interesting scenario because the actual page which caused the offence was that the, and many have used this since by the way including Alan Jones I believe, it essentially said "Not all Muslims are terrorists but nearly all terrorists are Muslims".

Now the basis of that statement was the FBI's most wanted list where in fact they were all Muslims. The website didn't go as far as the FBI's most wanted list so that was the concern that was raised, that was itself offensive I suppose.

EMILY BOURKE: And did you have to dismantle the website?

DAVID OLDFIELD: It was difficult to suggest that it was untrue. We agreed that the website would come down. I was not actually connected with the website at the time that the matter was raised.

EMILY BOURKE: Reflecting on your experience and the development of laws and legislation, proposed legislation since then, have we gone too far do you think? Is political correctness ruling the roost?

DAVID OLDFIELD: Well, I think it was too far then quite frankly. I mean the website as called and it merely conveyed information about Islamic terrorism. How is that somehow offensive unless one wishes to deceive or try and cover the notion that Islamic terrorism exists?

I mean bear in mind a lot of people who are Islamic related, the extremists, don't see themselves as terrorists. They see people such as, or groups such as the Australian Government, the American government, the British government, they see them as the terrorists and they're entitled to that view. In fact that is freedom of speech.

EMILY BOURKE: Gillian Triggs, your thoughts on that website, the content of it?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, I think it was, it went too far but we certainly agree with the core points that Mr Oldfield is making and that is freedom of speech is one of those fundamental human rights that Australia most particularly protects.

However international treaties, the racial discrimination convention say there are limits to that free speech where you have irresponsibly and without just cause vilified a particular race and one of the things that concerns us about websites of that kind are that they create a stereotype and the stereotype seeks through society and informs the way people behave.

So that we at the commission are getting a rising number of complaints by Australian citizens at the level of racial vilification by Muslim taking her children shopping, somebody in the Pitt Street Mall that wants to listen to the music is vilified because they're a Jew. These things are actually mounting in numbers at the Commission and we are deeply concerned that the stereotypes that these kinds of phrases about Muslims and terrorism create are having an insidious and profound effect in Australian society.

EMILY BOURKE: I'll come to the complaints and the number of complaints shortly but I wanted to ask you in a legal sense can racial and religious vilification be treated in the same way in that religion is not an inherent biological characteristic, religious views can change?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, so too of course can political views.

EMILY BOURKE: But race can't change.

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Oh race certainly can't. At the moment they are dealt with differently as a matter of law because we have for nearly 20 years had a racial vilification provision. We don't have a comparable provision in relation to religion and the Government in its proposed legislation perhaps went further than Australians at the moment appear prepared to go and that is take it into the religious field

EMILY BOURKE: Keysar Trad, I'd like to bring you in here. How should the boundaries be set when you are looking at the right to free speech, freedom of expression?

KEYSAR TRAD: The one essential element of freedom of speech is that the speaker has checked their facts and that they are correct and accurate. Another element is to consider what impact it's likely to have?

Is it going to incite sections of society to commit crimes of violence or to mistreat people purely because of their religious or racial background.

I mean in Australia we protect a number of minorities for their life choices. We've said protect for orientation but when it comes to Muslims it seems that Muslims have for a very long time been fair game.

There is a lot of comments out there that are not only deeply, deeply hurtful and offensive but they are also untrue and they are informing a large section of Australian society and until members of that large section who have been misinformed actually come in contact with a Muslim or take the time to speak to a Muslim organisation, they will remain misinformed and that misinformation unfortunately affects our children when they're looking for work, it affects us when we are out shopping. It affects us in many fields of life. It has gone to the extent where people have broken into the sanctity of my own home and they put half a pig’s head on top of my car and they put brick droppers in my letterbox and they put dog droppings in my letter box and a whole heap of things - abuse is constant.

I've received many death threats over the past 14 or 15 years and this is, this is directly as a result of the vilification against Muslim - every responsibly vilification that is out there.

EMILY BOURKE: David Oldfield?

DAVID OLDFIELD: Yeah, well look, you know you're not the only person who's had death threats Keysar. You know, I've had death threats as well, many of them and I know other people have had death threats as well and usually it's related to their political views.

Clearly you views don't necessarily sit straight with a lot of Australians and you always talk about untruths or lies and what have you. You expect that everybody checks their facts. I'm not sure you check a lot of your own facts and let's face this sense, people have views. People have opinions. In fact there's a saying, opinions are like backsides, everybody has them.

Now people are entitled to express their views. Those views will then be judged by the public to either be important, not important or absolutely BS but the public have a right to hear what people think about things. Life is not just a matter of expressed facts and let's face it, there are many things within Islam that people like yourself would rather was not or were not openly discussed and some of the things that you talk about as being untrue and I've had people ring my radio programs at times and tell us that what we were saying is not accurate when in fact it is accurate.

What is it for example that you are so upset and I'm not saying I'm here to defend Gert Wilders but what is it that he's been saying in brief that you say is untrue?

KEYSAR TRAD: Look, his statement has been widely reported that, accusing the Prophet Muhammed, peace and blessings upon him, of a number of horrific things there.


KEYSAR TRAD: I'm not going to name them, I'm not going to name those three things that he said but they've been widely published and you know what they are.

DAVID OLDFIELD: Well, I know this one in particular and I don't consider that we should make judgements of people.

Keysar, I don't consider we should make judgements of people who lived in the 7th century based on 21st century values but let's face this for simple fact, the Prophet Muhammed was in his last betrothal, betrothed to Aisha who was six at the time when they were betrothed, nine at the time when he consummated the marriage. These are matters of fact.

EMILY BOURKE: Keysar Trad, I'd like to ask you, Keysar Trad you had some success in going through the courts by taking on Alan Jones and the comments he made around the time of the Cronulla Riots: Can you explain that process, whether you were satisfied with the legal process that you went through?

KEYSAR TRAD: It's a process that took seven and a half years to get a result and even after we got the final result and Alan Jones was order to make an apology, he's appealed that again and we are going to the Supreme Court on that matter and that was not treated as religious vilification, it was treated as racial vilification because he made comments about Lebanese youth and he referred Lebanese youth as vermin, as rapists and pillagers, infesting our shores as security risk in the making. In that there was a whole week of this nonsense that he kept saying over and over and over again and it was really saturated abuse against Muslims and this is one of the problems.

It is not an unknown person who does not have a platform who makes these comments but once someone like Alan Jones starts them he gets these comments going through many sections of the media and they go on and on and on until they have the effect, an effect that's not too dissimilar from brain washing the listener or the viewer or the reader and …

EMILY BOURKE: Gillian Triggs, I'd like to ask you. How do you assess damages? It's different presumably from defamation where you can point to reputational loss.

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, it can vary. I mean, we for example deal with complaints and we conciliate a very high number of them. We might very well conciliate, let's say for example somebody comes to work as a Chinese and they're abused within the workforce regularly and in egregious language, really insulting and abusive language and that person puts up with it for months and finally suffers psychological illness, depression, has to resign their job.

There you might find that damages will be agreed with the employer at an appropriate level but I'd say many of the cases that we deal with are ones where the employer wasn't aware this was going on, is very worried that it's become a systemic thing within the organisation, will agree to change their structures and they will agree to some sort of payment, apologies, whatever is appropriate.

So it's a very wide range whereas of course what's being described here is a case of where the courts curiously enough have fewer options than we do in the commission when we can agree to anything that a particular person complained against might want to take on board when they conciliate the matter.

EMILY BOURKE: David Oldfield, around 2 per cent of people who suffer racial vilification actually make a formal complaint about it so does it matter that there are formal processes and legislation around this space?

DAVID OLDFIELD: Yes, of course it matters and it is important. All of this is very important and the work that Professor Triggs is doing is very important and because quite clearly it is utterly wrong and should be demonstrably able to be assaulted by the law when a person stereotypes, when a person as Keysar has said, if you are going to describe all Lebanese youth as something utterly negative then that is clearly wrong. It is demonstrably wrong and the laws are in place that already deal with that. But I also think that Australians surely by and large, the majority are able to make those decisions for themselves as that being wrong as well.

We've all had these sorts of experiences. My own children are partly Lakota Sioux, they're Amerindians as is my wife. I've been vilified; I've lost my job as a consequence of sexual harassment at one stage when I was younger.

So I mean many of us who don't fit the description of Muslims or other people who see themselves as minorities have had the same sorts of experiences not only personally but also with other people that they know.

It is important the work that is being undertaken to make sure that people are not discriminated against be it as a consequence of the religion, their sexuality, their colour, their background whatever.

At the same time it's important for freedom of speech always to be upheld so that people can make a determination of other people's views as to whether they matter or not and as I said earlier we need to be very careful of people who wish to limit freedom of speech because often it's a limiting factor they wish to impose to cover the truth being exposed or genuine debate or criticism of cultural practices or things that we in the 21st century in a Western country find abhorrent.

EMILY BOURKE: Keysar Trad, defenders of free speech say that people are free to say what they wish, they are entitled to their opinion but they're also free to be condemned for the remarks they make. Is challenging or contesting insulting, offensive language an adequate way to shut down religious hatred and racism?

KEYSAR TRAD: It's very, it has been very difficult in Australia to as David said, to use these laws to assault expressions that are vilifying. It is really very difficult …

DAVID OLDFIELD: I didn't say that at all. I didn't say it was difficult. In fact I said the laws were in place and that they worked.

KEYSAR TRAD: No, no, no, I said your assault, the words I am using from you, borrowing from you is assaulting these matters but it is very difficult to do what you just said. It is very costly, it is very time consuming, it is very stressful and in the end you go through a very long journey and what do you have in the end? We had a mere apology and we still don't have a clue whether our costs will be awarded to us or not because the jurisdiction where the matter was heard was a no cost jurisdiction so after spending a large sum of money and being vilified regularly as a result of it, you find that again it is almost like a hollow victory.

Yes, it is sweet to get an apology from someone like Alan Jones but it came at a very, very high cost and some, and another problem with it is that if the law was quick to act on this, we may not have had the Cronulla riots.

His vilifying comments were eight months before the riots and nothing was done about them. The complaints was in there and we were waiting and waiting and waiting and in the initial stage he was not responding at all to all the correspondence from the Anti-Discrimination Board of New South Wales.

It wasn't until the matter went to the Administrative Decisions Tribunal that he decided to engage legal representation and to contest the matter and they were contesting it for years and years and years and as I say …

EMILY BOURKE: Gillian Triggs, I'd like to ask you just finally, an enquiry into the draft recommendations for the Federal Government's anti-discrimination bill, the recommendation is that it won't be unlawful to offend or insult others and that that should be removed. Where to from here? How can we have a challenging robust conversation about Islam, about immigration, about race without it getting into that territory, that dangerous territory?

GILLIAN TRIGGS: Well, the current position and it's certainly one the that the attorney appears to be supporting is that the bits that really went too far have been taken out on the recommendation of the committee that enquired into it and we will keep the racial vilification law that's been on the books for 18 years.

So, we are really at the status, we're really at the status quo at the moment so you ask a very important question.

We've had, I think, one of the most interesting debates about this that I've seen in my time looking at the questions of human rights. I think we've got to keep it eternal vigilance. How do you ensure that the balance is right and in the main I think we get it right but if I could give you one quick example and that is the Bolt matter where Mr Bolt raised a matter, he was brought to court ultimately under the 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and he lost and he lost on the grounds that he was inaccurate and he was acting in poor faith and it was not fair comment but within a week of that outcome SBS had a major program and I think Q&A did as well on exactly the same question.

So the freedom of speech to raise the question of Aboriginality is perfectly proper to get out there, of course we're going to debate those questions but it was done in an informed, rational and calm way in good faith by the relevant channels that ran the program and that's the difference.

The law applies to one that's in bad faith and inaccurate but leaves open the possibility of a full and frank public discussion.

EMILY BOURKE: Gillian Triggs, the Australian Human Rights Commissioner, David Oldfield, commentator and free speech advocate, and Keysar Trad the founder of the Islamic Friendship Association. Thank you so much for your time.

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