Roxon scraps “offends, insults or intimidates” clause, keeps reverse burden of proof on the bill…

What we really need is a first amendment and a second to back it up. We have to throw these collectivist tossers into the dustbin of history.

Andrew Bolt:

Roxon’s backdown not good enough. Does she hate me so much?

Even if the “offends, insults or intimidates” clause is removed, the definition of discrimination would still include the word “harassing,” which is ambiguous enough to allow judicial interpretations that would infringe free speech.

A partial backdown from a shameful and sinister assault on our free speech by people mad with power and self-importance: 

ATTORNEY-General Nicola Roxon has admitted her proposed anti-discrimination laws were poorly drafted, confirming the government has dropped controversial provisions that would have prohibited offensive conduct.

But the IPA’s Simon Breheny says the planned laws should be junked completely:


Roxon has announced that the phrase “offends, insults or intimidates” may be removed from the definition of discrimination under the exposure draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.

But these changes don’t come close to going far enough…

It’s worth noting is that no changes have been proposed regarding the reverse burden of proof under the draft Bill. In practical terms, a complainant need only make out the barest case – a prima facie case. This is the test courts usually employ to determine whether a claim should be dismissed before it is even heard. But under the draft Bill, the prima facie test is all the complainant needs to prove. The burden is then placed on the defendant to show that he is innocent of wrongdoing…

Even if the “offends, insults or intimidates” clause is removed, the definition of discrimination would still include the word “harassing,” which is ambiguous enough to allow judicial interpretations that would infringe free speech.

Chris Kenny says the Government – and still is – blinded by its hatred for Andrew Bolt:

The government has dug itself in on these laws for too long – obviously unwilling to admit that the “offends or insults” test is too onerous because that would mean admitting by extension that Bolt was convicted under laws that were too restrictive. Back in 2011, government MPs and ministers lined up to condemn Bolt and endorse his conviction. So, blinded by their antipathy towards the popular conservative commentator, they have been sticking stubbornly to their proposed new laws despite widespread opposition and a range of eminent experts arguing that they will stifle free speech.

Sadly, however, Ms Roxon says the government’s changes will only drop the “offends or insults” test from the other areas of anti-discrimination laws, such as age, gender and disability, and keep it in place for racial vilification. This is wrong-headed. The test for discriminatory language should be the same, in law, across all areas of discrimination. That is supposed to be the very purpose of this consolidation of the law.

We can presume that the only reason the government doesn’t want to extend this sensible change to all areas of discrimination, is because it does not want to admit that Bolt was convicted under unreasonable laws – that Bolt was right.

UPDATE
Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis says Roxon’s planned laws against free speech remain outrageous – starting with reversing the onus of proof:

Under clause 124 of the proposed bill, once a complainant establishes a prima facie case, then the onus of proof lies on the respondent to prove that he did not engage in the impugned conduct for a proscribed reason or purpose: “ … it is to be presumed in the proceedings that the alleged reason or purpose is the reason or purpose (or one of the reasons or purposes) why or for which the other person engaged, or proposed to engage, in the conduct, unless the contrary is proved”.

That is invariably the key issue in cases of this kind; to reverse the onus of proof on that question is to put the respondent in an “innocent until proven guilty” position.

As well, under clause 8, the offending reason or purpose need not be the sole or even the predominant reason or purpose. It need only be one among several (otherwise innocent) reasons or purposes…

While the Attorney-General may be about to beat a tactical retreat on clause 19(2) [which extends the law to conduct which “offends, insults or intimidates”], the same words are repeated elsewhere in the bill, in the re-enactment of the infamous section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act …

This would continue to prohibit conduct which “is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people”.

This was, of course, the provision by which Andrew Bolt’s right of free speech was notoriously abridged…

… the draft bill [also] makes the reach of anti-discrimination law much more invasive by expanding the categories of “protected attributes” and the “areas of public life” to which its provisions apply.

Thus, the legislation provides for not only the existing and familiar grounds of protection from unfair discrimination such as race, gender and marital status; it includes vague new grounds such as political opinion and social origin.

3 thoughts on “Roxon scraps “offends, insults or intimidates” clause, keeps reverse burden of proof on the bill…”

  1. Keep your eyes on Roxon – folks will have to fight this atrocious legislation all the way – like all criminals the ALP is putting out smokescreens to hide their real intentions and your folks will have to be very alert!

  2. This Roxon needs a bullet!
    As an Australian I am ashamed of her bizarre anti discrimination rules.
    It sounds very much she is siding with Muslimes and agreeing to bring in Sharia Law!
    This is going to far! Where do you draw the line with these anti discrimination laws I say!

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