Commissioner backs repeal of racial law

Human rights commissioner Tim Wilson is gearing up for a battle with colleagues over a likely government attempt to repeal a controversial section of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Tim Wilson. Picture: JUSTIN McMANUS

Tim Wilson. Picture: JUSTIN McMANUS

Mr Wilson, appointed by the Abbott government as freedom commissioner, will argue for a full repeal of a clause in the Act used successfully to prosecute conservative commentator Andrew Bolt.

The Human Rights Commission has acknowledged the government’s right to change the law but has indicated it would prefer modest change to section 18C.

Mr Wilson is backing a full repeal, putting him at odds with his fellow commissioners.

He says the section places unnecessary restrictions on free speech that offends, insults, humiliates or intimidates people on the basis of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.

‘‘It conflicts with other human rights and therefore does not meet the threshold for restricting speech,’’ he wrote in The Australian on Monday.