What an excellent government we have. Its ability to see clearly and understand the need to protect free speech and political debate while at the same time protecting individuals from vilification in the public sphere is exceptional. I discussed this in a post on Andrew Bolt and Mark Liebler. This is what I concluded then:
Free speech is about allowing the freedom to say whatever one believes in the midst of political discourse. If an acceptance of racist rants is defended as examples of free speech then the very notion of free speech will be discredited by these very claims in the eyes of anyone who wishes to live in a decent society where individuals are protected from the kinds of racist abuse that has no part to play in a civilised community which seeks to promote peace, order and good will.
And it is exactly this distinction that has been made in the coming legislation.
The Government Party Room this morning approved reforms to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (the Act), which will strengthen the Act’s protections against racism, while at the same time removing provisions which unreasonably limit freedom of speech.
The legislation will repeal section 18C of the Act, as well as sections 18B, 18D, and 18E.
A new section will be inserted into the Act which will preserve the existing protection against intimidation and create a new protection from racial vilification. This will be the first time that racial vilification is proscribed in Commonwealth legislation sending a clear message that it is unacceptable in the Australian community.
The coming debates in this country over the course of the next few years will be about political views that mascarade as religious or racial views. We now have legislation that will allow such debates to take place in public without spurious claims of racism being allowed to cloud the discussion. An exceptionally well thought out piece of work.