QUT race case struck out by judge

A RACIAL discrimination case against three Queensland University of Technology students has been struck out with a Federal Circuit Court judge ruling the claims had no reasonable prospect of success. 

The case centred on a number of Facebook posts the three male students involved made in May 2013. 

The posts were made after an indigenous woman named Cindy Prior asked Alex Wood - who she would later unsuccessfully sue - to leave an indigenous computer lab the university had set up. 

Upon leaving Mr Wood took to the QUT Stalker Space Facebook page and posted: "Just got kicked out of the unsigned Indigenous computer room. QUT stopping segregation with segregation…?"

Later Jackson Powell who Ms Prior would also claim racially vilified her posted: "I wonder where the white supremacist computer lab is.."

Which he followed up with: "…it's white supremacist, get it right. We don't like to be affiliated with those hill-billies."

And later: "Chris Lee today's your lucky day, join the white supremacist group and we'll take care of your every need!"

Another man Callum Thwaites was also drawn into the matter when his account posted: "ITT ni$#ers" although he says someone else used his Facebook to make the comment. 

Today in a lengthy judgment Federal Circuit Judge Michael Jarrat struck out the claims against the three students mentioned above. 

A number of reasons were cited by Judge Jarrat.

These included that Mr Powell's white supremacist comments were merely a poor attempt at humour.

Another reason for dismissing the case was that it could not be proven the comments were made because Ms Prior was indigenous and that some of the posts were not profound or serious enough to bring the Racial Discrimination Act into play.

Ms Prior's case against QUT and two of its staff has been adjourned for further consideration until November 21. 

News Corp reports that outside court this afternoon Anthony Morris QC, counsel for two of the students, criticised Australian Human Rights Commission president Gillian Triggs, for letting the case get this far.

The matter had to be passed on by Human Rights Commission before it could reach the the courts.

"There is one person to blame for that, one person, and that's Professor Triggs, the head of the Australian Human Rights Commission,'' Mr Morris said.

Fairfax reports the case's failure is likely to further embolden what it claims is yet another push from within the right-wing ranks of the Liberal Party to amend or repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act which states: 

"It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group."

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