SBS reveals VCAT ruling anomalies

first_img Facebook Twitter: @NeosKosmos Instagram An SBS Radio feature has shone more light on the controversial 2011 decision by the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), to dismiss The Australian Macedonian Advisory Council’s complaint against the Australian Macedonian Weekly. The dismissal raised major concerns about the effectiveness of the Australian justice system in such cases. The SBS program ‘Monitoring the ethnic media’ produced by SBS journalist Kristina Kukolja, presented expert views on the VCAT decision, and introduced protagonists on both sides of the debate. In the program, Ms. Kukoljia questioned the kind of journalistic standards that are being upheld in Australia’s ethnic media, and explored systems that might be created to curb racial vilification by extreme ethnic media titles, given the inconsistency and failings of state and federal government policy on the matter. During the 20 minute program, Mr. Ordan Andreevski, a spokesman for the ‘Australian branch of the United Macedonian Diaspora*’ made some revealing remarks, declaring the article which referred to Greek people as “deranged bastardly monsters”, was never intended to offend. Mr Andreevski described the article as “historical” and that it sought to expose “the denial of human rights, especially language rights of Macedonians by Greek authorities over the last 100 years.” The FYROM advocate said he thought the article “may have offended some people, when they take certain words out of context.” The newspaper’s targeting of allegedly like-minded readers (and their assumed prior knowledge of the historical context in which it was written) was central to the newspaper’s defence and VCAT’s decision. Mr Ordan Andreevski told SBS that the reason for the publication of the article in English, unlike most of the newspaper’s articles, was likely to be the targeting of younger members of the community who may not know the claimed historical context. “Our young generation needs to be aware of the past and present policies that are unfortunately still current in Greece. If community newspapers don’t educate the community about historical events and policies and practices, then they will not be doing their job.” In dismissing the racial vilification complaint, VCAT tribunal member Noreen Megay had told the tribunal that the reasoning for her judgement, was that “for the average Macedonian reader, this article is probably just ‘preaching to the converted’.” President of Liberty Victoria, Professor Spencer Zifcak, told SBS that he had been surprised and dismayed by the VCAT decision. “‘Preaching to the converted’ is not a viable argument against the capacity of a published article to incite racial hatred or serious racial contempt,” said Professor Zifcak, before adding that inconsistency in the enforcement of legislation governing race-related speech at the state and federal levels has long been evident, and needs to be changed. The program ‘Monitoring the ethnic media’ can be found on the SBS podcast website.*This is the formal name under which the above entities are registered in Australia. Neos Kosmos does not endorse the use of the term Macedonian. last_img

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