Email: Anti-discrimination laws are chilling freedom of speech

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In an important article for the Australian Financial Review last week, IPA Executive Director John Roskam explained how illiberal anti-discrimination laws undermine free speech:

Anti-discrimination laws aimed at preventing people from being offended are chilling freedom of speech in Australia. Such laws are a bigger threat to freedom of speech than outright regulations or control of the media because they’re so insidious and because they affect everyone, not just journalists.

This follows a complaint in Tasmania last week against the Catholic Archbishop of Hobart Julian Porteous to the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner.

The IPA issued a media release on this last week, noting that this is what we predicted would happen when the Tasmanian anti-discrimination laws were expanded in 2013. The IPA’s Simon Breheny concluded:

Even if the complaint is rejected by the commission, the fact that the legislation contemplates such a complaint on a topic of genuine and significant public and political debate shows the overreach of the Tasmanian regime.

The promise of a “thoroughly liberal government” must be followed

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Of course, restrictive anti-discrimination laws are not only found in Tasmania. All jurisdictions should repeal such laws that have the capacity to undermine the legitimacy of public debate.

At the federal level, Malcolm Turnbull has promised to lead a “thoroughly liberal government committed to freedom, the individual and the market”.

The new prime minister must follow through on this promise, and as the IPA’s James Paterson suggested in The Australian last week, could start by turning his attention to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975:

A core issue for the free-market Right is freedom of speech… Turnbull is on the record as supporting a compromise measure proposed by Family First senator Bob Day… An announcement that it will vote for Day’s private member’s bill would be a powerful demonstration of the values of the Turnbull government.

Continue reading here.

Journalists still missing the point on freedom of speech

In September, Laurie Oakes spoke at the Melbourne Press Freedom Dinner giving a critique of limitations put on the press in the name of national security. As the IPA’s Chris Berg wrote on FreedomWatch, Oakes’ speech was more revealing for what it didn’t say:

It was revealing in more ways than one. Because national security is hardly the only domestic attack on free speech in recent years. Oakes’ speech shows – by omissions – that the bulk of the journalistic community was missing in action on almost every major freedom of speech controversy under the Gillard government.

Continue reading here.

Three more articles from this week you must read

  • In this week’s Spectator, a must-read article by Simon Morgan analyses the taxpayer funded organisation leading the divisive campaign for indigenous recognition
  • Australia must regain its competitive edge in an unforgiving world, writes Brendan Pearson in the Australian Financial Review last week
  • And Robert Tracinski argues at The Federalist that the free market is just like Uber – but for everything.

Some other recent highlights from FreedomWatch

Kind regards,

Morgan Begg
Editor of FreedomWatch – Institute of Public Affairs

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