Free Speech reform stumbles

It is easy to understand why so many people are disappointed in politics. At every turn, your political representatives avoid the ‘tough’ decisions.  Actually, many of them avoid even making the easy decisions.

So it was yesterday when the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights released their report into freedom of speech in Australia. The sole reason for this inquiry was to resolve issues relating to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act which allows claims of offence or insult to be punishable under law. The evidence was in, the 18C scandals were clear. Yet the committee bowed at the altar of political correctness, they heeded the caution of the saturated mattress.  Let’s consider the evidence.

Recently, three university students faced a three-year legal battle because they were victims of racist exclusion and dared to comment on it. As befits the left’s alternate reality, the perpetrator became the victim and demanded $250,000 for her hurt feelings. It was a disgrace from the get-go and the fact that it festered for three years is an indictment on the law and the covert process attached to it.

There was also the complaint against cartoonist Bill Leak who dared to speak truth to power through his illustrations. Columnist Andrew Bolt was also targeted and actually lost a court case - a judgement which many believe should have gone to appeal.

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The committee made many recommendations yesterday, tinkering at the edges about the complaints-handling process under section 18C. Like so many captured by the bureaucracy, the committee thinks that changing the process will solve the problem. Another victory of process over substance? No - the committee is wrong. Changing the process may aid resolution but the substantive problem is the law.

Put simply, just because someone says they have hurt feelings doesn’t mean they should be able to have a government agency investigate or prosecute their complaint.

The 18C scandal takes on new importance as identity politics and the competing rights agenda are used by the left to undermine civil society. The fact that a number of members of the committee couldn’t break out of that nexus suggests that the PC infection has contaminated swathes of the Liberal Party too.

It really is time to take a stand. This snowflake-protecting, damaging ideology and its proponents are hurting our country. If the political class won’t support freedom of speech what will they support? What other of your freedoms will they limit to make their already-cosy lives easier?

There really is a better way…a principled way that does the right thing no matter how tough it is. That’s the attitude parents have shared with their children for generations. Do the right thing, do it once and do it right.

Our political class need to hear that message loud and clear. Australian Conservatives are committed to taking it to them.