Perennial petitioner group GetUp! has recently launched a campaign on the Gillard government’s proposed anti-discrimination overhaul. The group has published a list of answers to frequently asked questions. One of their stranger answers is to the question: ‘Won’t this legislation limit free speech.’ The extraordinary answer they give is ‘no.’ As they explain:
The new definition of discrimination is not likely to expand the definition of discrimination in a way that would limit freedom of speech. The government has indicated clearly that it has no intention of broadening the definition of discrimination so it is highly unlikely that a court would interpret the clause as making any conduct which only insults or offends someone unlawful discrimination.
Well, if that’s what the government has said!
The draft Bill clearly defines discrimination to include conduct that offends or insults. Any law that seeks to protect people from being offended or insulted is an outrageous attack on freedom of speech. The attempt by GetUp! to paper over this aspect of the draft Bill is extremely misleading. And it follows attorney-general Nicola Roxon’s attempts to deceive the public over her dangerous proposal.
It’s interesting that GetUp! disagrees with former NSW chief justice Jim Spiegelman’s interpretation of the government’s draft Bill.