ONE Nation leader Pauline Hanson is furious at being called a racist, and told the Senate she considers herself a victim of "reverse racism", as the chamber considers dumping anti-racism laws.

An ultimately pointless push to delete parts of the Racial Discrimination Act by senators has pitted One Nation's Pauline Hanson against Labor MP and national Indigenous Australia leader Patrick Dodson as they and others argue about what is racism and what is free speech.

The bill comes from Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, and is sponsored by four One Nation senators and Derryn Hinch.

The bill does not have the support of major parties is likely to fall in a heap eventually, but it is still going to be debated.

Mr Leyonhjelm said that part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act - which includes the much-argued about clause 18C - attempts to stop racist speech, but fails.

18C makes it illegal to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone on the basis of their race or religion.

The law also includes 18D which says Australians can do all those things as long as its "said or done reasonably and in good faith". 

Senator David Leyonhjelm
Senator David Leyonhjelm AAP Image - Lukas Coch

Some senators including Mr Leyonhjelm do not consider that to be enough of an exemption.

"18C seeks to discourage racist speech in the hope that it will somehow change racist thoughts," he told the Senate.
"It won't. In fact, it makes it more likely.

"If you don't understand free speech, you don't understand freedom.

Mr Dodson responded that there was "nothing wrong with freedom" if you're in power, and plenty wrong with it when you're having to fight for it.

"Have no doubt that racism is something that isn't growing wild out there in the fields, it's actually tended in flower boxes sitting on the windowsills of flats and houses," he said.

"And that matter is something that we as all Australians should be working to get rid of so that the freedom that's spoken about by Senator Leyonhjelm can in fact be enjoyed by all citizens.

"We haven't seen that … (for example) our colleague Anne Aly receiving death threats because of the stupidity of language used by one of our ministers to incite some lunatic in this society to threaten violence and death to her and her family."

Ms Hanson took her change to tell the chamber she has "had it up to here" with being tolerant.

She said she was frustrated at being called a racist, saying her critics could point to no comment "in policy or anything that is racist".

"It's become now in Australia down to reverse racism. That's why Australians are fed up with it," she said.

"That's why they're saying they want change because it's got to a point where you cannot have a say any more.

"I'm okay, I'm in this chamber, I'm protected. I can say what I want to say here.

"But if I go outside this chamber and say it outside like many Australians, we can't have an opinion, we can't say anything anymore."

She then asked if it was "really going too far" to have a view that offended others.

She then said Australians needed to look at those "of a different religious background" who describe "our young ladies who wish to not cover themselves up or dress in a fashion of a short skirt and then be told they are nothing but a meat market".



Racial Discrimination Act: 18C

Offensive behaviour because of race, colour or national or ethnic origin

(1)  It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

Racial Discrimination Act: 18D

Section 18C does not render unlawful anything said or done reasonably and in good faith:

(a)  in the performance, exhibition or distribution of an artistic work; or

(b)  in the course of any statement, publication, discussion or debate made or held for any genuine academic, artistic or scientific purpose or any other genuine purpose in the public interest; or

(c)  in making or publishing:

(i)  a fair and accurate report of any event or matter of public interest; or

(ii)  a fair comment on any event or matter of public interest if the comment is an expression of a genuine belief held by the person making the comment.

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