You really can’t have it both ways.
Either you agree it’s okay to vilify people on the basis of their race or you want to be the Minister for Indigenous Affairs.
The problem is typified by the cartoon by Australian cartoonist Bill Leak.
Most people were outraged by this cartoon and rightly so although Leak went to great lengths to defend it.
Indigenous affairs minister, Nigel Scullion, (the Minister Tony Abbott is seeking to replace) labelled the cartoon racist and particularly tasteless given it was published on National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s day.
By contrast, Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott have joined in defence of Bill Leak against allegations of racism, describing The Australian’s cartoonist as colourful, passionate, and tough but fair.
One of the important roles for the Minister for Indigenous Affairs is to defend aboriginal people from the attacks of the powerful. Racial vilification that occurs in one of Australia’s major newspapers is of a different order of magnitude to what may occur in an argument in the pub.
People should have the right to say what they think but sometimes the channels that they use to do so are so powerful and persuasive that message becomes disproportionately amplified.
We would hope that the Minister for Indigenous Affairs would be a counterbalance to the right wing views of Malcolm Turnbull, Tony Abbott, Bill Leak and the Australian.