Hate laws to be reviewed

Ismail al-Wahwah.

THE NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBOD) has been working closely with Attorney-General Gabrielle Upton to ensure last month’s failure by the police to charge Hizb ut-Tahrir leaded Ismail al-Wahwah with racial incitement is not repeated.

Despite al-Wahwah calling all Jews corrupt and a “hidden evil” and declaring that “the ember of Jihad against the Jews will continue to burn”, police decided that there was insufficient evidence to mount a case.

The decision prompted calls from both JBOD and NSW Anti-Discrimination Board president Stepan Kerkyasharian for the state’s race hate legislation – under which there has never been a prosecution – to be reviewed.

JBOD president Jeremy Spinak and CEO Vic Alhadeff have had a number of meetings with Upton to progress that issue. “Our clear understanding is that the State Government is keen to improve the legislative process in connection with this issue and is working towards reform,” Alhadeff said.

“The Attorney-General has been receptive to our views on this issue and, as always, has been supportive of the community’s concerns.

“Close consultation and ongoing dialogue with her and her senior staff are continuing, and we look forward to a positive outcome that will benefit not only the Jewish community, but all 200 ethnic communities which comprise the state of New South Wales.”

Upton told The AJN the government is determined “to help foster an inclusive, harmonious and diverse community”.

“We are vehemently opposed to racial vilification and hate speech, and are working towards reform in this area to ensure our laws protect vulnerable members of our community,” she said.

Speaking to 2GB’s Alan Jones, Alhadeff said: “We need a very simple, clear law in NSW that says ‘if you deliberately incite violence against people because of their race, then you have committed a crime, you will be prosecuted’.

“As Australians who care about the society we want for our children, we cannot walk past this and we cannot accept anything less.”

A legislative Council Law and Justice Committee report in 2013 made a number of recommendations including changes to the operation of Section 20D of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, which covers the criminal offence of serious racial vilification.