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Bernardi: More backing race law change

AAP logoAAP 29/08/2016

Amending the Racial Discrimination Act was once backed a few "crazy right wingers" but can now count at least 20 senators on its side and that had much to do with a Queensland university case, Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi says.

Senator Bernardi, who plans to introduce a private bill to remove the words "insult" and "offend" from section 18C of the act, said this was a modest and sensible reform.

He said before the election it was "only a few of the crazy right wingers like myself" who backed this change.

He now has the support of at least 13 coalition senators and seven crossbenchers and the Queensland case had played a significant role.

Three Queensland University of Technology students are being sued for racism over a series of Facebook posts after they were asked to leave a QUT computer lab reserved for indigenous students.

Senator Bernardi said not one person has been able to defend the use of 18C in this case.

"If it had gone to the tribunal and they'd just said 'this is a joke surely, you're being ridiculous' and thrown it out, maybe we wouldn't have quite the same strong level of interest we have now," he told Sky News.

Senator Bernardi rejected the suggestion he was just seeking to make trouble for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

"It really is about fixing a wrong," he said on ABC television.

"It is entirely about the principle behind freedom of speech in this country."

Government leader in the House of Representatives Christopher Pyne said those backing the proposed change were entitled to demonstrate their concern by moving such a bill.

"But it's not the government's policy to change section 18C at this time and there is no proposal for it to be changed," he told ABC radio.

Mr Pyne said he wasn't obsessing about section 18C or same-sex marriage.

"I and the government are obsessing about budget repair and creating jobs and economic growth," he said.

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