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Great news: Coalition will oppose anti-discrimination laws – outright

The Australian this morning reports ($) some very welcome news. The federal Coalition has officially declared that it will oppose Roxon’s anti-discrimination laws, even if the government amends it to remove the “insult” and “offend” provisions:

The Coalition joint partyroom has unanimously agreed to oppose the draft laws — even after the government proposed to dump aspects of the bill that make it unlawful to offend someone.

The Attorney-General’s Department presented four options to the Senate committee investigating the exposure draft this week. These addressed concerns that it would expand the reach of the the Racial Discrimination Act on speech that offends, insults and intimidates.

But opposition spokesman for legal affairs George Brandis said the changes did not go far enough, as they did not address the shift in the burden of proof or the expansion of the “protected attributes” to include political opinion and “social origin”.

“We are going to oppose it outright,” senator George Brandis told The Australian last night.

“We don’t consider the proposed changes go nearly far enough. And we have also considered the strong reaction in the community.

“The only adequate response from the opposition would be to oppose rather than amend the bill.”

It is understood that in the joint partyroom meeting, Tony Abbott spoke on the subject.

The Opposition Leader said it was important that the Australian community knew Coalition members were the “custodians of freedom of speech” compared with the Gillard government.

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