Dr Tim Soutphommasane, Race Discrimination Commissioner
Two freedoms – freedom of expression and freedom from racial vilification
Amid significant public debate about the Racial Discrimination Act, this address explores the history of federal racial vilification laws and the rationale for legal protections against racial harassment. In a liberal society that values racial tolerance, how should our laws reconcile the possible tensions between freedom of expression and freedom from racial vilification?
Dr Tim Soutphommasane has been Race Discrimination Commissioner since 20 August 2013. Prior to joining the Australian Human Rights Commission, he was a political philosopher at the University of Sydney. His thinking on multiculturalism and national identity has been influential in reshaping debates in Australia and Britain. Dr Soutphommasane is the author of three books: The Virtuous Citizen (Cambridge University Press, 2012), Don't Go Back To Where You Came From (New South Books, 2012), and Reclaiming Patriotism (Cambridge University Press, 2009). He has been an opinion columnist with The Age and The Weekend Australian newspapers, and in 2013 presented “Mongrel Nation”, a six-part documentary series about Australian multiculturalism, on ABC Radio National. He is a board member of the National Australia Day Council, a member of the Australian Multicultural Council, and a member of the advisory council of the Global Foundation. A first-generation Australian of Chinese and Lao descent, Dr Soutphommasane was raised in southwest Sydney. He completed his Doctor of Philosophy at the University of Oxford, from where he also holds a Master of Philosophy degree (with distinction). He is a first-class honours graduate of the University of Sydney.
See essay by Dr Soutphommasane: Racism is a Moral Issue