Two white men have lodged a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission claiming they have been racially vilified by an Aboriginal politician who claimed the push to amend the Racial Discrimination Act was being led by "white men".
Former Australian Defence Force major and Queensland Senate candidate for the Australian Liberty Alliance, Bernard Gaynor, and cartoonist Paul Zanetti have lodged complaints with the human rights commission alleging that federal Labor MP and Aboriginal woman Linda Burney had racially discriminated against white people.
The complaint is about Burney's response to prime minister Malcolm Turnbull's announcement that there would be an inquiry into section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.
"It astounds me that the people that are advocating for the removal of 18C are basically white men of a certain age that have never experienced racial discrimination in their life," Burney told reporters in Canberra earlier this week.
Section 18C makes it unlawful to act in a way that will “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people” based on their “race, colour or national or ethnic origin”.
Gaynor posted about the complaint on his website on Thursday and said Burney's comments were "racist" and vilify "white men".
"These words are clearly racist and they make offensive and insulting connotations about white men. So I have lodged a complaint of racial vilification with the Australian Human Rights Commission," Gaynor wrote.
Zanetti said on his website that he was, "shocked, stunned, hurt and offended to see and hear a publicly elected representative resorting to such blatantly sexist, racist and ageist comments".
Zanetti is seeking a public apology from Burney and $10,000 in compensation to
"assuage my hurt feelings".
Burney told BuzzFeed News, "Good luck to them".
"As I've already said, Section 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act contains many exemptions to protect free speech."
"Wasting taxpayer time and money on [this] complaint is a very irresponsible way to make a very misguided political point."
"The point I'm making is about a lack of empathy: politicians, even those who haven't faced racial discrimination, need to put themselves in the shoes of those who have," Burney said.