Amend constitution to combat discrimination: Graeme Innes

Australia`s Race Discrimination Commissioner has said the next federal government must amend the constitution to make it impossible to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act.

Updated: Aug 29, 2010, 19:01 PM IST

Melbourne: Australia`s Race
Discrimination Commissioner has said the next federal
government must amend the constitution to make it impossible
to suspend the Racial Discrimination Act.

The act was suspended in 2007 to roll out the Northern
Territory intervention in Aboriginal communities and has yet
to be fully reinstated.

A United Nations report has condemned the intervention
saying it shows discrimination is structurally embedded in
Australia.

Commissioner Graeme Innes said the UN committee was
shocked at the Federal Government`s policy in the Northern
Territory, according to ABC report.

"The actions that needed to be taken in the Northern
Territory could have been done on a non-discriminatory basis,"
he said adding "So what the committee is recommending to
Australia is not only we completely remove the suspension -
which we haven`t yet done - but we entrench in the
constitution a provision so that never again can race
discrimination law be suspended in Australia."

Innes further said s Australia was in denial about
being a racist country.

"We need to do much better in terms of having a
national multicultural policy, which we haven`t had for almost
15 years, which includes an anti-racism strategy," he said.

"I think the problem for Australia is that we try to
pretend that racism isn`t there. What we need to do is face
the facts that there are elements of racism in this country
and take some positive action to address it."

The Racial Discrimination Act is expected to be
restored in December this year.

The UN report welcomed the Labour Government`s
national apology to Indigenous Australians, but said that
concrete steps to increase life expectancy or improve the rate
of deaths in custody had not yet been demonstrated.

The committee`s recommendations were issued in a
report following a regular review of Australia`s compliance
with an international treaty of 1969 prohibiting racism.

PTI