A government review of Commonwealth laws has identified section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 as being ‘of particular concern’ to freedom of speech, in a major report released last week.
The Australian Law Reform Commission, which was joined last month by the IPA’s academic advisor Professor Suri Ratnapala as a part-time Commissioner, is conducting a review into Commonwealth encroachments of ‘Traditional Rights and Freedoms’.
In its interim report last week it identified the freedom of speech implications of section 18C, and the need for a ‘more thorough review’ of the law.
This follows the tick of approval by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to amend put forward by Senator Bob Day to remove the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the law.
With the Prime Minister’s own party’s rank and file also having endorsed Senator Day’s amendment bill in June, the government should consider this an ideal opportunity to honour its election promise and take a stand for freedom of speech.
‘Recognising’ the Australian Constitution, and its limits
The momentum for constitutional recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait islanders is moving in a dangerous direction, with Indigenous leaders suggesting ‘recognition’ is no longer sufficient to achieve recognition.
While symbolic statements do not belong in Australia’s ‘workmanlike and practical document‘ (as Lorraine Finlay outlined on FreedomWatch yesterday), the debate among a number of Indigenous leaders has hardened in favour of more substantive proposals, such as a new Indigenous race power and a prohibition on racial discrimination.
On FreedomWatch yesterday, Lorraine Finlay, lecturer of law at Murdoch University, details just how dangerous these proposals are:
There are a number of significant problems with these substantive proposals. The first is that any constitutional race power – even if it claims to be exclusively beneficial – undermines the simple proposition that nobody should be judged or discriminated against because of the colour of their skin. It is difficult to see how enshrining references to race in our Constitution could do anything other than undermine racial equality and reconciliation.
Chronicler of communist horror passes away
Heroic historian of the Cold War Robert Conquest passed away last week. Best known for his work documenting the atrocities of the Stalinist Soviet regime, Conquest also criticised Western intellectuals for being apologists for Stalin’s brutality.
Last Thursday IPA adjunct fellow Tom Switzer had an obituary published in The Australian on Conquest which is well worth a read:
[I]t was his 20-plus books on Soviet history – most notably The Great Terror: Stalin’s Purge of the Thirties in 1968 and The Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivisation and the Terror-Famine in 1986 – that define his legacy.
Both tomes exposed the true nature of Joseph Stalin’s crimes and the gulag system and the suffering caused by the collectivisation of agriculture. Both were also smuggled into the Soviet Union and eastern bloc states, influencing major dissidents…
Continue reading here.
Nation-wide Magna Carta events continue in Adelaide, Melbourne and Perth
IPA Executive Director John Roskam, Senior Fellow Chris Berg, and Research Scholar Stephanie Forrest are speaking across Australia on the importance of the Magna Carta and its relevance today. You can book for these locations now:
Wednesday, 12 August 2015, 5.00pm for 5.30pm until 7.00pm
Stamford Plaza Adelaide, 150 North Terrace, Adelaide
Thursday, 13 August 2015, 5.00pm for 5.30pm until 7.00pm
CQ Functions, 113 Queen Street, Melbourne
Tuesday, 8 September 2015, 5.00pm for 5.30pm until 7.00pm
Duxton Hotel, 1 St. Georges Terrace, Perth
These events are free for IPA members and $10 for non-members, but you do need to register your attendance. To book your place visit http://rsvp.ipa.org.au or call the IPA office on 03 9600 4744.
3 articles from this week you must read
Read them here.
Some other recent highlights from FreedomWatch
- Morgan Begg, The slippery slope of plain packaging laws – 27 July 2015
- Mikayla Novak, Governments shouldn’t go buffet dining on the Buffett tax – 28 July 2015
- Brett Hogan, Are hot showers the new target of climate change campaigners? – 29 July 2015
- Hannah Pandel, The climate of conformity follows Lomborg to Flinders University – 31 July 2015
- Darcy Allen, Heritage protection for commission housing? – 4 August 2015
- Mikayla Novak, In France, insulting the poor could soon send you to jail – 6 August 2015
Editor of FreedomWatch – Institute of Public Affairs