Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, 13 Jan 2013.
Late last year the federal government released details of a proposed law bringing together Australia’s various anti-discrimination laws (on sex, race, disability and age) into one. Federal Attorney-General Nicola Roxon sees the government’s task as striking a balance between freedom of speech and protection from unfair treatment. She says the government does not plan to prohibit people from discussing political, religious or other matters.
The draft bill proposes a subjective test to determine whether conduct offends, insults or intimidates another person. The federal Coalition sees the bill as an “ideological crusade” to control free speech, while Senator George Brandis said it could lead to media self-censorship. Business and church leaders have expressed a range of concerns, including the fact that the proposed law could leave them facing very high costs to defend legitimate claims.
One hopes the government responds adequately to the criticisms it has received on this matter of reforming our anti-discrimination laws.
I’m Rod Benson for the NSW Council of Churches.