Minister can’t say on website bans

30 Apr 2008

By The Record

By Pal Gray
A senior federal government figure with responsibility for multiculturalism says he is “disgusted” by the existence of websites promoting anti-semitic and racist hatred, but can’t predict whether the government will move to ban them.
Laurie Ferguson, who is the parliamentary secretary for Multicultural Affairs and Settlement Services, was responding to calls from a Jewish anti-defamation group for the outlawing of websites that spread racial and religious vilification.
The B’nai B’rith Anti-defamation Commission said last week that Australia’s commitment to enhancing multiculturalism and combating racism requires strong action to combat internet sites engaged in racial vilification.
“We have laws banning race hatred and we have laws certain kinds of violent and pornographic material on the internet but we have no system to police race hatred on the internet,” said the Commission’s chairman John Searle.
“It’s inconsistent and leads to the abuse of minorities.”
The Commission had released details from several so-called “mission islam” websites which claimed Jews have distinctive characteristics such as liking to “spread mischief and corruption.” 
The sites said Jews “are people of indignity, disobedience and transgression.” The websites also published as true a notorious Nazi forgery alleging an international Jewish conspiracy, the “Protocols of the Elders of Zion.”
Asked for the likelihood of government action against the websites, Mr Ferguson told The Record he was concerned, and “more than concerned, quite frankly, disgusted,” by the sites in question.
But he could not predict the course of the Government’s decision-making on the issue as it lay within the provinces of the Commonwealth Attorney-General and of the Communications Minister, and he could not foresee their actions.