In Defence Of Freedom

I am back in the political saddle after a couple of weeks’ break. It was a challenge to not follow the news whilst away but it also meant there was a lot to catch up on upon my return.

First and foremost I note the government has announced they will not be proceeding with changes to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.

This is a very disappointing decision as I fully supported what the Attorney-General, Senator Brandis was proposing. However, I also know that various sections of the community and the parliament had some concerns with the actual wording.

My disappointment stems from the fact that we only ever saw the initial suggestion which was released to stimulate community discussion.

It certainly did that but I thought there was plenty of room to modify the proposal in an attempt to reach broad agreement. Unfortunately, the entire process has now been abandoned.

Adapting the A-G’s original suggestion wouldn’t have satisfied the ‘free speech purists’ but it certainly could have strengthened freedom of speech in Australia. A relatively simple change like removing the words “offend, insult or humiliate” would have been a vast improvement to the current Act.

People take offence at any number of different ideas, words or public actions. Some will feel insulted or humiliated by the actions of others.

That doesn’t necessarily mean the offender should be required to front a court on the basis of others not liking what was said or done. Yet this is what has happened in the past and it was a matter that the government promised to address.

Fortunately, a non-government senator is now proposing to make the running for freedom of speech in Australia. I want to support him and would be very interested to know what you think.

There has also been some discussion about modifying the data prevention laws to assist in the fight against terrorism. While I am still getting my head around exactly what is proposed (as are others), if you have any specialised knowledge of this area it will assist with my deliberations.

With so much more to catch up on before the resumption of parliament, I shall sign off for now and get back to the paperwork!

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