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‘Race politics is back’: race commissioner exits with parting shots at conservatives

Tim Soutphommasane will warn that “race politics is back” and criticise Turnbull government ministers for their rhetoric on African gangs and ethnic separatism in a fiery final speech as race discrimination commissioner. The world is being undone before us. If we do not reimagine Australia, we will be undone too | Richard Flanagan Read more But – borrowing another favourite phrase of Malcolm Turnbull’s – he warns there has “never been a more exciting time to be a dog-whistling politician or race-baiting commentator in Australia”. Soutphommasane argues there is a concerning “mixing of race and politics” with politicians “enthusiastically seeking debates about immigration, multiculturalism and crime”. “They end up damaging our racial tolerance and multicultural harmony.” Soutphommasane says there is “simply no compelling evidence that Australian multiculturalism is in danger of veering towards ethnic separatism”. Where the seeds of racism are planted in political speech, they will bear bitter fruit in society Tim Soutphommasane He argues people born in Australia and New Zealand are also “over-represented in Victorian crime statistics” and questions why the race of offenders is deemed relevant for crimes committed by those from Sudanese backgrounds but not other crimes. The outgoing race discrimination commissioner brushes off suggestions that political correctness has shut down debates about race. Soutphommasane accuses the far-right – not multicultural communities – of exercising a form of identity politics through the use of terms like “mainstream Australia” and “middle Australian values” which are “code for something racial”. “People should look at it another way: if you don’t want to be called racist, you can start by not doing something racist.” Soutphommasane praises the Racial Discrimination Act, and particularly section 18C which makes it unlawful to “offend, insult or humiliate” people on the basis of their race or ethnicity. We reject racism because it it diminishes our nation.”