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18c is a Festering Wound in Australia’s Democracy

March 22, 2017

18c is a Festering Wound in Australia’s Democracy

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The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) exists for a purpose but no one has ever been able to stipulate exactly what that purpose is.  Instead, we are presented with a series of vague mantras about equality, diversity and human rights but no one seems to know what they actually mean.  In reality, the AHRC does not even know what should and should not be included as a human right.  Instead, it wanders through the world as it expands its definitions in one area and reduces them in another.

We have to ask why in any modern democratic society were seven University students dragged through the AHRC to justify their casual twitter missives. Why did many of the students have to pay $5000 to avoid legal action?  Why did the case take 3 years to make its slow progress through the AHRC?

The case of Bill Leak case highlights how even a cartoon with one intention by the artist was taken to mean the opposite in order to prosecute a claim using the 18c legislation.  Did the stress of the case against Bill Leak shorten his life?  Was he hounded, by the AHRC, into the grave?

The specter of censorship is already a reality when columnist Andrew Bolt had two of his articles outlawed by the courts.  Similarly, a Tasmanian Arch Bishop was facing charges for daring publish a booklet that defended traditional marriage over same-sex marriage.  Does anyone really think that these are examples of how free speech is being protected in Australia?

Laws by their nature come from governments and the courts with the premise that they are there to protect the people.  It is the people who has bequeathed such a heavy burden of trust upon these institutions.  In doing so it is with the understanding that the powers that lawmakers use will not be abused.  Unfortunately, if a law is bad, vague or poorly written then all manner of unscrupulous operators will take advantage of the loopholes.  And the biggest loophole of them all is 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act.

Why is 18c so bad?  Because of its sets an extremely low provision for it to be enforced.  By making the trigger insult or offend there is a gaping opportunity for anyone to take offense at anything that is written or spoken. Immediately the complaint is made, the defendant must then prove their innocence using the more complicated process as stipulated in 18d of the same act.

Bill Leak responded to his complaint using 18d as his justification and still, he was ignored by the Human Rights Commission.  Worse, Gillian Triggs, the head of the AHRC, told a Senate Enquiry that Bill Leak had never responded to its queries.  Triggs was proven to be wrong after Leak’s lawyer produced a copy of the document that he had sent. Gillian Triggs is now being accused of misleading the Senate.  Some days latter Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane faced the Senate Hearing to falsely claim that he had not tried to drum up support for a complaint against Bill Leak.  Yet, on the day Bill Leak had published his cartoon, Dr. Soutphommasane was using Twitter where he issued repeated advice to the public about how to make a complaint to the HRC about behavior which they believe may contravene Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.  Soutphommasane also linked to his Twitter posts to numerous articles that were condemning Bill Leak’s cartoon.  How did these two people gain so much power and use it so ruthlessly to crush free speech?

Bad laws give bad people in corrupted institutions the power to silence anyone in Australia.  18c is a bad law and should be abolished.  In its current form, the Australian Human Rights Commission is partisan beyond all reason.  Both Gillian Triggs and Tim Soutphommasane were appointed by the previous Labor Government because of their left wing political preferences.  In the case of Tim Soutphommasane, he co-authored and edited a book titled ‘All that’s Left‘, which praises a whole range of extreme leftwing causes he wants Australia to adopt.  Gillian Triggs showed her loyalties when she remained silent about asylum seekers in Australia detention when the Labor Party was in power only to release a report condemning it as soon as the Liberal Party took power.  Neither of these two people has shown that they can be trusted with the enormous powers that they have been given.  For that matter, what purpose does a Human Rights Commission have when it sets out to destroy the fundamental right to free speech?  Perhaps it is time that it was abolished.

Yet the most dangerous threat to expressing an opinion comes from 18c of the Racial Discrimination Act and it needs to be removed from the books.  Already it is being used to attack and silence political enemies.  Worse the law is being used as a shakedown scam to elicit thousands of dollars from defendants via secret negotiations.  This is criminal corruption at it worst and will only expand when ambulance chaser lawyers realize that they have a new business model.  The potential for corruption is endless.

18c must be abolished because it threatens the very freedoms it claims to protect. It is a festering wound in Australia’s democracy and if left untreated will corrupt the entire body.  Without the freedom to express an opinion even right to defend freedom will be crushed.

Editorial Comment

18c is poison but 18d is no cure.

The treatment is death.

How about we remove the poison from our law books?

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