Today I will introduce a Bill to reform section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act by removing the words ‘offend’ and ‘insult’ from the list of offences. This hurt-feelings test has been misused and abused to shut down differing opinions in taxpayer-funded lawfare.
Early in my Senate career I wrote that I got into politics to do something, not to be someone. That intention hasn’t changed in the ten years since.
Sometimes, in politics and life, there are things so important that they need to be defended under any circumstances. For lovers of freedom and jousters in the battle of ideas, one of those principles is freedom of speech.
For the first time, citizens were encouraged to complete their census form online after assurances that the system was secure and robust. Whilst the former claim is yet to be seen, it certainly wasn’t robust. In fact, it had to be shut down by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) because of purported ‘hacking’ attacks.
There have been two significant stories broadcast by the ABC over the last week or so that I’d like to briefly discuss today.
Firstly, the Four Corners story on juvenile detention in the Northern Territory (NT) which aired last week. There is no doubt that the broadcast images were confronting, resulting in the Prime Minister establishing a Royal Commission (RC) within hours of them going to air.
“Megalomaniac”, “vengeful”, “unstable” and “a b*stard” with a “vicious temper” who put “his own self-interest ahead of … the country as a whole.”
That’s how some of Kevin Rudd’s Labor Party colleagues have described him to the press. Members of the Coalition have been just as critical in their appraisal of the temperament and character of the former Prime Minister.
My comment today will be brief as many of you will be enjoying the respite from political commentary after a marathon election campaign.
The Coalition government has been re-elected, for which I am grateful. It has always been my belief that it is better for the country to have a right-of-centre majority in the House of Representatives rather than a Labor one. The challenge ahead will be to negotiate good policy through a disparate Senate, where the final composition may not be resolved for several weeks.
The term ‘Orwellian’ has come to mean a cynical manipulation of language for the purpose of oppression. We see it in many facets of public life today and George Orwell wrote about the threats of such in many of his books. However, I doubt that even Orwell himself could have foreseen just how far this insidious process has progressed in such a short space of time.