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Racism Call Sparks Talks Between Ministers In Australia

The attorney-general has reaffirmed the Human Rights Commission’s independence.

SYDNEY — Attorney-General Michaelia Cash has reaffirmed the Human Rights Commission‘s independence after a fellow Liberal frontbencher raised concerns about using the term “anti-racism”.

Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker rang commission president Rosalind Croucher last month to question an AU$140,000 ($108,399) tender aimed at boosting the Racism It Stops With Me campaign.

Senator Stoker was concerned taxpayer money was being used to promote critical race theory, which has come under fire internationally from conservatives including former United States President Donald Trump.

Under questioning from Labor’s Jenny McAllister, Senator Cash confirmed she spoke to her assistant minister after the issue emerged in the media.

Senator Stoker was concerned taxpayer money was being used to promote critical race theory. (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image)

Assistant Attorney-General Amanda Stoker was the first to raise an issue over critical race theory.

The theory, as per writer Stephen Sawchuk, is Critical race theory is an academic concept that is more than 40 years old. The core idea is that racism is a social construct and that it is not merely the product of individual bias or prejudice, but also something embedded in legal systems and policies.

The basic tenets of critical race theory, or CRT, emerged out of a framework for legal analysis in the late 1970s and early 1980s created by legal scholars Derrick Bell, Kimberlé Crenshaw, and Richard Delgado, among others.

“She respects the independence of the Australian Human Rights Commission and was merely raising some questions,” Senator Cash told an estimated hearing on May 26.

Senator Cash said, “I made it very clear the Australian Human Rights Commission is a statutory authority and is independent from government.” (Mick Tsikas/AAP Image)

“But, as appropriate, Professor Croucher did not let the concerns that were raised influence any decision.”

There were minor changes made to the language in the tender but the commission president is adamant Senator Stoker’s intervention had no sway.

Greens Senator Mahreen Faruqi tweeted “I’m disturbed to see Amanda Stoker pressuring the independent Human Rights Commission to step back from vital anti-racist work. Without dismantling racism at the systemic and institutional level, we don’t have a hope of eradicating it in our community.”

The attorney-general also contacted Croucher to reassure her about the commission’s independence.

Economist Anita Eglitis tweeted “That’s Labor National Party Senator, Amanda Stoker, who opposes the term “anti-racism” and who, as Australia’s Assistant Attorney General, caused Australian Human Rights Commission to halt its tender for a program on racism because she doesn’t like Critical Race Theory.”

“I made it very, very clear that the Morrison government has zero tolerance for all forms of discrimination, especially racism and so do the Australian people,” Cash said.

“I made it very clear the Australian Human Rights Commission is a statutory authority and is independent of government.”

Croucher is due to appear before the Senate committee on May 27.

(Edited by Vaibhav Vishwanath Pawar and Praveen Pramod Tewari)