Tony Abbott: "the job of government is to foster free speech, not stifle it"


Nicola Roxon springs into action:    Moderately bad manners require state permission now: Permission denied

EXCELLENT speech to be given today (Monday) by Tony Abbott at the Institute of Public Affairs.

The Australian

The job of government is to foster free speech, not to suppress it 

Key comments from the edited text of the speech:

*  Australia does not need more regulation of the media, it needs a debate about freedom of speech.

* The job of government is to foster free speech, not stifle it. It’s to increase the number and the range of people who can participate in public debate, not to reduce it.

* Another threat to freedom of speech in Australia is the operation of section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, which prohibits statements that “offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate” another person or a group of people on grounds of race or ethnicity.

* Making the likelihood of causing offence to a group the test of acceptable behaviour is a much more onerous restriction than bringing a particular victim into hatred, ridicule or contempt.
Let’s be clear: insulting, humiliating or intimidating others on any grounds, racial or otherwise, is deplorable but a “hurt feelings” test is impossible to comply with while maintaining the fearless pursuit of truth which should be the hallmark of a society such as ours.

* If it’s all right for David Marr to upset conservative Christians, why is it not all right for Bolt to upset activist Aborigines?    [NOW SURELY this applies to ISLAM as well!]

* The Coalition will repeal section 18C in its present form. We would be prepared to maintain a prohibition on inciting hatred against or intimidation of particular racial groups, akin to the ancient common law offences of incitement and causing fear. Expression or advocacy should never be unlawful merely because it is offensive. It ought to be inconceivable that a commentator offering an opinion should fall foul of the law just because offence was taken or might be expected to be taken.


I believe it when I see it:

I wanted you to be the first to know – Opposition Leader Tony Abbott just promised that if the Coalition wins the next election, they will Repeal Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, the law that caused Andrew Bolt to be hauled off to court for the ‘crime’ of offending someone. He also promised to repeal any new regulation of the media arising out of the Finkelstein and Convergence reviews, and explicitly rejected calls for more so-called self-regulation of the press.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that threats to freedom of speech have now been removed. But it is a very positive start to restoring free speech in Australia.

You can read the Opposition Leader’s full speech here.

Mr Abbott made this major announcement during his address on freedom of speech to an audience of Institute of Public Affairs’ members and supporters in Sydney earlier today.

It is a tribute to everything you have done to support our work on freedom of speech that the Opposition has now promised to take major steps to remove restrictions on free speech.

We would not have been able to shift the debate on free speech to where we are today without your support. If you were not a member of the IPA, if you did not make donations to support our work and if you didn’t participate in our campaigns, this result could not have been achieved.

Thanks to you, we were able to hold a forum in defence of free speech featuring Andrew Bolt in the lead up to his court case. After he lost, it was your support that allowed us to run a full page statement in The Australian standing up for free speech. It was members like you who made our Mark Steyn freedom of speech tour such a major success. It was concerned Australians like you who told politicians we won’t tolerate attacks on our rights through our Repeal 18C and Press Freedom campaigns. And of course it was your support that made it possible for the IPA to publish my book, In Defence of Freedom of Speech: From Ancient Greece to Andrew Bolt – and that allowed us to send it to every federal member of parliament along with judges and journalists.

There is still more work to be done. The government and the Greens are still extremely hostile to free speech. And a promise from an opposition leader is not the same as actually changing policy in government. We will need to remain vigilant and keep the pressure on politicians until our freedoms are actually returned to us. And we will need your continued support to do that.

Thank you for everything you have done to support freedom of speech and the IPA – we couldn’t have done this without you.



Chris Berg

Research Fellow
Director, Policy

Institute of Public Affairs
Level 2, 410 Collins Street
Melbourne VIC 3000

The ‘Islamophobia’ Racket

( – The bloc of mostly Muslim-majority states has a new name and logo but, despite the momentous upheavals across the Arab world, “Palestine” and religious “defamation” continue to top its agenda.

The OIC head had more to say on the Palestinian question than he did on any other country situation – the civil wars in Libya and Yemen, political turmoil in Syria and Bahrain, the imminent division of Sudan, the conflict in Afghanistan, or calls for reform from Morocco to Jordan. Iran received not a single mention.

Also receiving much attention at the meeting in Astana was the issue that has dominated OIC activism at the U.N. in recent years – “Islamophobia” and the associated campaign to outlaw religious “defamation.”

Ihsanoglu in his speech reaffirmed that it was “a matter of extreme priority for the OIC.”

“Islamophobia represents a contemporary manifestation of racism and the phenomenon must be addressed in that context,” he added, alluding to the OIC’s drive to amend an existing, binding anti-racism treaty, the International Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination, so that it also covers religion.

Should the campaign succeed, the amended convention would place legal restrictions on “matters regarded by followers of any religion or belief as sacred.”

New OIC logoThe OIC’s new logo features a green crescent, a globe, and a representation of the Ka’aba – the cube-shaped structure in Mecca which Muslims revere as Islam’s most sacred site. (Image: OIC)

Critics say this would silence legitimate criticism of Islamic teachings and authorities, further endanger non-Muslim minorities, and amount to enforcing blasphemy laws similar to those in place in OIC member state like Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.

During the meeting in Kazakhstan, an OIC body called the “Islamophobia Observatory” released its fourth annual report, stating that the 12-month period ending in April had seen an increase in the frequency and intensity of “Islamophobic events, acts and utterances.”

Read MORE here………

One thought on “Tony Abbott: "the job of government is to foster free speech, not stifle it"”

  1. Free speech is getting more expensive than ever. Must be the recession. Though more than likely corrupt politicians!!!

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