IT WAS something of a rough weekend for conservative columnist and television show host Andrew Bolt, after former Labor minister labelled him a racist during a panel discussion.
Former Trade Minister Dr Craig Emerson fired at Bolt after he declared the "Recognise" campaign to have Indigenous Australians recognised in the constitution itself racist because it "divided people by race".
It came during a panel discussion about Qantas giving public support to the campaign.
When asked his view, Dr Emerson said he took "fundamental issue" with Bolt's claim, to which Bolt hit back that "dividing people on the grounds of race is racist".
"Well then you're a racist," Dr Emerson said.
"Because of the comments that you made in relation to Indigenous people."
When Bolt tried to rebut the attack, Dr Emerson continued, "That's what you did, you identified a group of people and went for them".
Mr Bolt described it as a "fundamental and offensive reading of what I said".
"I knew you'd be offended and I'm offended by you describing this as a racist campaign," Emerson retorted.
"That's no reason to lie about what I said," Bolt said.
The back-and-forth follows plans by the Federal Government to discard changes to 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act that proposed.
The reform was suggested after Bolt was found by the Federal Court of Australia to have made comments that "offended, humiliated or intimidated" on the grounds of race.
Mr Bolt faced court after a class action was launched in response to a column he wrote titled "It's so hip to be black".
In it, he describe one of those involved in the suit as Aboriginal "even though she looked as white as her Scottish mother, or some of her father's British relatives".
After the court found against him, then-Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said there would be reform of the laws.
These were now being scrapped to encourage cultural groups to unite with the government behind a banner of Team Australia.
Do you believe Andrew Bolt deserved to be called a racist?
This poll ended on 18 September 2014.
No, I don't think what he said was racist at all
Yes, if dividing people on grounds of race is racist, then so is Bolt
I don't care, it's a storm in a teacup
This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.
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