March 26, 2014

NSW Opposition Leader John Robertson has affirmed Labor’s strong commitment to multicultural communities and a diverse and tolerant Australia – promising never to support the Liberal Party’s plans to wind back protections against bigotry and hate speech.

Today Mr Robertson – joined by Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Communities Guy Zangari – hosted a special NSW Labor roundtable at Parliament House with Turkish and Middle Eastern media outlets.

Mr Robertson condemned the Liberal Party’s plan to repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act as well as comments on Monday by Attorney General George Brandis that “Australians have a right to be bigots, you know.”

“Attorney General George Brandis’ comment that Australians have a right to be bigots is extraordinarily offensive,” Mr Robertson said.

“It is appalling to see a senior Liberal Party figure give the green light to hate speech.

“I condemn the Liberal member’s comments and I find it extraordinary that Premier Barry O’F

“We need to be very clear that racial abuse has no place in a diverse, tolerant state like NSW.”

Mr Zangari added: “Watering down Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act can only have one result and that’s to make it easier to racially abuse people.”

“The sentiments coming out of the Liberal Party as expressed by Attorney General George Brandis are out of step with multicultural communities. They are frankly frightening.”

With just 12 months to go until the 2015 state election, Mr Robertson also used today’s roundtable to explain how Labor is moving to finalise its range of policies.

In recent months, John Robertson has

           Announced Labor’s support for a second Sydney airport at Badgerys Creek;

-           This is an initiative that will create 30,000 jobs in the airport precinct and turn areas such as Parramatta, Liverpool, Blacktown, Campbelltown and Macquarie Park into major employment hubs;

           Released Labor’s comprehensive policy to tackle Sydney’s alcohol violence;

-           Key measures include late night trains from Kings Cross to Town Hall and Central, expanded late night police presence and new rules for late night venues;

           Proposed the creation of a NSW Jobs Commission

-           Designed to stem the State’s rising unemployment rate and offer workers hope after a spate of major job losses and Liberal Government TAFE cuts.

           Committed to offer 800 new scholarships to high-achieving students to become maths and science teachers

-           Ensuring NSW can develop a highly-skilled and competitive workforce;

           Committed to invest in NSW hospitals

-           Labor will stand firm against the Liberal Party’s proposed $6 tax to visit the doctor – a tax which will intensify pressure on hospitals already suffering the longest elective surgery waiting times in Australia

“This is an exciting period for Labor as we move to develop and finalise policies that will make NSW a better place,” Mr Robertson said.

“Over the last three years, it is clear that the Liberal Government led by Barry O’Farrell has not delivered the action that people expect.

“We now have Liberal Party control in both Sydney and Canberra.

“Both Tony Abbott and Barry O’Farrell are cutting money to health and education. We need a Government that invests in these key areas.

“At a time of rising unemployment – and major layoffs including Toyota, Holden, Qantas, Sensis and Alcoa – it is also essential that the Liberals reverse their damaging cuts to TAFE and focus on growing jobs in NSW.

“We are not seeing any sort of plan from Barry O’Farrell.

“The Premier is not moving quickly enough – and he needs to do better.”

Mr Robertson said Labor was also concerned that the O’Farrell Government had walked away from its responsibility to provide a comprehensive English as a Second Language (ESL) curriculum in NSW schools.

The Liberal Party has also cancelled the Building Multicultural Communities Program – killing funding to 130 projects across NSW – including several serving Turkish and Middle Eastern communities.


Copyright 2007