In support of Freedom of Speech

Here’s a video put up by the Institute of Public Affairs in support of our right to say what others may not like. It was that function hosted for Andrew Bolt, currently tied up in the courts in a matter relating to this issue.

Some points of order under the fold about the fact Australia does NOT explicitly have Freedom of Speech; we have (implied) Freedom of Expression.

Good on Andrew Bolt for fighting The Good Fight and a big thanks to the IPA, all those who spoke, all those who attended, and everyone who supports the stuff mentioned in that video.

UPDATE – related

It appears that ratbag GetUp! mob may be going to try and shut Lord Monckton down at his speech to the National Press Club on Sunday.

And again, in case you missed it (or like me, never got back to it after cooking dinner a few nights ago), here’s Lord Monckton’s speech that was shut down in a number of cities.


Not in Australia, but yet another example of Free Speech being eroded.



Damn it, Andrew. What’s going on?

International Background

In 1948 the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). Article 19 affirms the right to free speech:

Article 19. Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.(1)

Members of the Commonwealth Parliament reaffirmed the principles of the Declaration during a sitting on 10 December 1998 to mark the 50th anniversary of the UDHR and pledged to give wholehearted support to the principles enshrined in the Declaration.(2)

Article 19 of the 1966 United Nations International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) states that:

Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression … (3)

Australia is a signatory to this treaty(4) and, in order to incorporate treaties and conventions into Australian law, governments must pass a specific Act of Parliament. Although some parts of the treaty have been implemented into law, such as the Human Rights Commission Act 1981,(5) no government has implemented the free speech provisions and therefore they are not enforceable by Australian courts.
Freedom of Speech and the Constitution

The Australian Constitution does not have any express provision relating to freedom of speech. In theory, therefore, the Commonwealth Parliament may restrict or censor speech through censorship legislation or other laws, as long as they are otherwise within constitutional power. The Constitution consists mainly of provisions relating to the structure of the Commonwealth Parliament, executive government and the federal judicial system.(6) There is no list of personal rights or freedoms which may be enforced in the courts. There are however some provisions relating to personal rights such as the right to trial by jury (section 80), and the right to freedom of religion (section 116).

Since 1992 decisions of the High Court have indicated that there are implied rights to free speech and communication on matters concerning politics and government, e.g. permitting political advertising during election campaigns.(7) This is known as the ‘implied freedom of political communication’. Issues arising from these decisions include defining when communication is ‘political’ and when the freedom should prevail over competing public interests.(8)

The Australian Constitution does not expressly protect freedom of speech or expression. In 1992, however, the High Court of Australia held that a right to freedom of expression, in so far as public and political discussion were concerned, was implied in the Constitution. This right was thought to be an essential requirement of democratic and representative government and thus implied into the Australian Constitution, which had established such a system of government. Subsequent cases have made determinations on the scope of this implied freedom. It has been found to extend to the publication of material:

  • discussing government and political matters generally;
  • relating to the performance of individuals of their duties as members of the Parliament; and
  • discussing the performance, conduct and fitness for office of members of the Commonwealth and State legislatures.

The right does not extend to more generally to a right to freedom of expression where political issues are not involved.


    • Sean of Deer Park
    • July 13th, 2011

    BB, I want to watch this vid, but all I can see is a big black box! No play button, etc..

    Is it me or is there something wrong with the link?

      • Sean of Deer Park
      • July 13th, 2011

      Got it now!

        • Sean of Deer Park
        • July 13th, 2011

        After seeing those highlights, it is clear we need to support Mr Bolt; and not jump to any conclusions about his moderators, intentions, credibility or honour. Very moving. I am glad I retracted what I sad elsewhere about my comments on his blog not being posted. Thank you very much for posting this thread, BB. It brings perspective to a frustrating situation.

        I’d suggest, in my humble opinion, Andrew’s Blog is currently being scrutinised for legal reasons. In this process, our own ‘Freedom of Speech’, although hindered, is in fact, being protected in the long run; and Andrew’s legal predicament/obligations are being protected in light of the proceedings currently against him. As commentators at his site, any of us may inadvertently say something (however harmless in intention), which could very possibly have an adverse results for both, Andrew and ourselves. A certain matter must be finalised and dealt with by the court. The consequence and inconvenience seems somewhat unfair, but is “Just” (I think that is the right legal term).

        Bravo, Andrew. You get a standing ovation from me. Even if I am not able to say so on your own Blog, at this time.

  1. Hi,
    I heard about the press club thing with GetUp, I would not put it passed them, they seem to be getting more and more radical if that is possible, what on earth is wrong with these people.

      • Sean of Deer Park
      • July 13th, 2011

      I hope they have security on hand to deal with any disruptions! It would be a very bad look for the press club if anything silly was to take place.

    • There ain’t much that I’d put past that ratbag mob, either. Yea, it would be an historic event. 🙄

      BTW, Sean, I think the putting up of that pic was a kind of tacit acknowledgment, too. Wish he’d included that I mentioned it’s only 15min drive from a major industrial city with over a million people, lol. Korea: Vietnam it is not!

      Use Gillard’s fart power on that one!

    • Shelley
    • July 13th, 2011

    Does anyone know if GETUP got a copy of this planned carbon dioxide taxation scheme before the embargo was lifted and if they had prior knowledge before the making of their advert? re:

    I wish some people in media wouldn’t present things quite so sympathetic just because someone happens to be ‘green’.

    The woman who is now in the media as being in tears after the Abbott ask and tell was asked before gaining entry if she was a member of a political party. Her reply was no. She later admitted herself on camera that she was a member of the Greens. She has lied to gain entry and has then cried because she was heckled. Some question if she is even a resident in the area. I ask if the journalist that gave her a lift was a ‘friend’ and believe that she if not them both would be very happy with the days work.

      • Merilyn
      • July 13th, 2011

      Hmmm Shelley she sounds like a “plant”, to cause problems, but Abbott handled it well, by letting her have her say, yes she was heckled, but what on earth did she expect, when the Greens and the Labor party are trying to force the carbon tax on this country, to be made welcome?

      Regarding GetUp, it seems to me, [and if wrong fair enough tell me so], that they have become more radical since Simon Sheikh became the boss. He just seems to be the one pushing things along, and note the PM and Co have at no time told him, to “cool it”.

    • Well, I can’t figure out where you’re wrong there Merilyn… and Shelley, nothing has been proved yet, but GetUp!’s – let’s say – quick action is, er, unprecedented.

      Defying a media embargo is easy enough to do. All you simply need is a total lack of respect for protocol. Years ago at uni, I could have easily gotten “the scoop” by hours if I’d ignored the embargo on the ALP 2001 campaign launch documents that I had in my hands hours before it was announced.

      That document would have been finalised days in advance with perhaps minor tweaks, but you can’t print all those documents over morning tea.

      Enough said.

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