The Jewish community of New South Wales, Australia’s most populous state, has welcomed “a landmark legal decision” against racist behavior.
Ever since legislation outlawing racial vilification was introduced in 1989, the Jewish community has successfully used the law to elicit apologies as well as positive articles about judaism in publications that have run Holocaust denial and other anti-Semitic literature.
But only recently did a complaint under the anti-racist law — formally known as the Anti-Discrimination Act — result in a fine.
A city council member in the New South Wales city of Wagga Wagga, Jim Eldridge, was ordered to apologize publicly to the Australian Aboriginal community for referring to them as “half-breeds” and “savages.”
He was fined $2,200 for his behavior, which included declaring “was with God’s help” on the Wagga Wagga Aboriginal Action Group, which represents the community’s native population.
The Jewish community saw the judgement made by the Equal Opportunity Tribunal as evidence that “in this state, racist behavior is unacceptable,” Michel Marx, president of the Jewish Board of Deputies, said in an interview.
“The legislation contains ample provision to bring about conciliation and compromise, but in a case such as this, where the public figure was not prepared to conciliate, penalties are both fair and appropriate,” Marx added.