As we rake over the coals and the counting after yesterday’s election, the thoughts of many people now turn to the future of freedom.
Specifically, freedom of speech, conscience and belief. In the last days of the campaign an opinion poll emerged showing just how much Australians care about the issue.
The YouGov poll – shows that across party supporters, the overwhelming majority (around 75% of those surveyed) agreed that freedom of thought, conscience and belief in public through speech, practice and teaching needed to be protected. Only 5% disagreed and 20% were undecided.
It is interesting too that this support has risen more than 10 percent since the marriage plebiscite 18 months ago.
Although the Israel Folau case took up a lot of air-time, the freedom of speech issue is much wider than that – and in one way much more complex to navigate.
But the result is simple. To paraphrase George Washington – if we are not free to speak, we are not free.
I’m Russell Powell for the NSW Council of Churches.