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Lib thinks racist speech changes are close

AAP logoAAP 16/08/2016

The Senate is just a few votes away from changing hate speech laws - if government backbenchers can convince coalition leaders the change must be made.

Liberal senator James Paterson is among those pushing to modify or scrap a section of the Racial Discrimination Act that makes it illegal to offend, insult or humiliate a person on the grounds of race.

"We are only one or two votes away from where we need to be in the Senate," he told Sky News.

"The right bill, well-crafted, with the right approach, has a very good prospect of passing this parliament, and I think, if the government takes it up, as I hope it will ... then I think we will get very close to getting this done."

Ministers including Attorney-General George Brandis, who is responsible for the Act, have been firm that change is not on the government's agenda.

But an influx of crossbench senators who want the change, including Liberal Democrat David Leyonhjelm, independent Derryn Hinch, and Pauline Hanson and her three fellow One Nation senators, has put the issue back on the agenda.

Senator Leyonhjelm has brought a complaint against a Fairfax Media journalist who labelled him an "angry white male" with the intention of demonstrating what he says is the absurdity of the law.

Senator Paterson says Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull previously has said he would be comfortable with removing the words "offend and insult" from section 18C of the Act.

"It's a question of him taking up the mantle and leading on this and I think if he does so, it will be very warmly welcomed," he said.

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