The complaint against Aussie cartoonist Bill Leak, who penned the above cartoon, has been dropped.
A young woman who alleged that she suffered racial hatred because of a provocative Bill Leak cartoon in The Australian has withdrawn her complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission.
Commission president Gillian Triggs’s delegate, Jodie Ball, wrote to The Australian’s lawyers last night to advise that Melissa Dinnison had told the AHRC yesterday that she “did not want to continue with her complaint”.
“Therefore, Miss Dinnison’s complaint has been finalised … and the file is now closed,” Ms Ball said.
Ms Dinnison, who until recently lived in Perth, made an online complaint to the commission in August claiming she had “experienced racial hatred” and been “discriminated against because of my race” as a result of the cartoon.
Attempts to contact her have been unsuccessful and she is believed to have moved to Germany to live. She said recently she was terrified to return to Australia because of racism.
Leak said last night he found it “utterly extraordinary” that Ms Dinnsion was able to make the complaint under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act and then withdraw it without any consequences. “This woman, I believe, has very flippantly and recklessly lodged a complaint with the ARHC,” he said. “It shows what a farcical process this is. I’ve got News Corp backing me legally. But if I was a private citizen, this would have cost me an absolute fortune.
“She has put me through a month or so of incredible stress. She never met me, she doesn’t have to justify anything she does. No one asked her any questions and it doesn’t cost her a cent. As a consequence my life has been thrown into utter chaos. And at time when it just happens to suit her, she just decides this could turn into a bit of a hassle, so she can withdraw it.”
Leak said Ms Dinnison had acted in response to Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane’s public calls for any Aboriginal person who felt offended to lodge a complaint with the AHRC. In Facebook posts, Ms Dinnison said she identified as “a light-skinned indigenous person”. Writing under the pseudonym Melissa Rose on August 30, she described the Leak cartoon as disgusting. The cartoon depicted an indigenous police officer presenting a youth to his father in an outback setting, saying: “You’ll have to sit down and talk to your son about personal responsibility.” The father replies: “Yeah righto, what’s his name then?”
The cartoon’s critics have described Leak’s work as a racist and hateful smear of indigenous parents, but The Australian has defended the cartoon, arguing it is indisputable that serious child welfare issues in remote indigenous communities are often the result of absent or neglectful parents.
A cowardly social justice bully who laid a vexatious claim. These people are the ones who should be prosecuted.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act should be abolished. It is being used as a bully pulpit for the permanently outraged against freedom of expression and freedom of speech.