The recent Sub Continent Friends of Labor (SFL) and media dinner saw a huge turnout, with Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, Tony Burke, Shadow Minister for Citizenship and Multiculturalism Michelle Rowland, Chris Hayes MP, Senator Sam Dastyari, John Robertson, Linda Burney, Michael Daley, Amanda Fazio, Peter Primrose, Tania Mahaulik, Adam Searle MLC, Sophie Costis MLC, Shakout Moselamane MLC, Greg Donnely MLC and Crl Prue Carr in attendance.
Speakers congratulated the members of SFL, and its chairperson Harish Velji, and vice-chair Ejaz Khan for providing the leadership.
While Mr Velji spoke of why he felt the Liberal Party is a danger to the social cohesion of Australia, Hon Chris Bowen said he believed “engagement and communication” with people is essential to the success of a government.
“The team at SFL works towards connecting local MPs with the people they represent. Their partnership with the media has delivered the Labor message to the many diverse communities from this region. This was imperative during our time in government, and we hope this will continue during our time in opposition,” said Mr Bowen.
In her speech, Michelle Rowland accused the Abbott Government of abandoning culturally and linguistically diverse communities by repealing parts of the Racial Discrimination Act.
“Australia is a richly multicultural and diverse country, and these laws have acted as protection for these communities against hate speeches since they were introduced,” Ms Rowland said.
“These are laws, which were passed in 1995 with bi-partisan support. It is extremely disappointing to see the Government confirm its plans to scrap these laws, which carefully balance the rights of freedom of expression with the rights of individuals and groups to be protected from discriminations based on race, and they should be maintained,” she added.
Aisha Amjad Khan, a member of SFL, and also vice-president at Women in Film and Television NSW, spoke in detail about Section 18C, which makes it unlawful to publish material that offends or insults a person or group because ”of race, colour or national or ethnic origin” – the same section Senator Brandis the Federal Minister intends to wind back to protect the likes of Allan Jones and Andrew Bolt.
The SFL media dinner is an annual event.