NSW Finance Minister Dominic Perrottet gave an excellent speech in the Legislative Assembly yesterday on freedom of speech and the Archbishop Porteous case in Tasmania. You can find the must-read speech here, but here’s a snippet:
This issue is not about religious freedom. It’s about freedom itself.
All parties in a debate – whether politicians, think tanks, religious institutions, lobby groups or anyone else – should be able to express their views freely without censure. The state licensing freedom to a particular group is no freedom at all.
Whatever your views on the definition of marriage, we should all be uncomfortable the government now has the power to intimidate, investigate and prosecute you if it finds your views somehow inappropriate.
Yesterday, The Australian reports that the case is set to go to conciliation, following a response from the Archbishop expressing regret that he had caused offence. Perrottet states who should really be apologising:
Madam Speaker, either we are free or we are not.
All of us – by virtue of our intrinsic value as human beings – have the fundamental right to speak our views, without the government in its infinite wisdom trying to regulate our private beliefs.
I have read several statements from Bishop Julian Porteous regretting any offence.
He should stop apologising. This is his point of view and no one else has to agree with him. He should not regret saying it just because some people have chosen to take offence. If they disagree, they should engage in debate. That is how free societies work.
Mr Speaker, this case should be dismissed immediately and the Tasmanian Anti Discrimination Commissioner should issue an apology to the community – followed by her immediate resignation for this grave error of judgement.