|Tuesday, 06 March 2012 14:54|
Over the years we have regularly reported on the increasing threat to free speech around the world - and also in Australia. Federally, we have a 'racial hatred' law which some people want extended to include religion and homosexuality. Over the past 10 years, most states have enacted vilification laws - including race, religion, homosexuality and so on.
This post is about two CURRENT aspects of free speech... if we don't act NOW, our free speech will be diminished!
1. Media censorship
Various reviews of the media in Australia are currently underway. These reviews are considering ways of censoring the media - some proposals even include censoring of websites and blogs, as well as mainstream media.
You may have heard reports about this in the past few days. At the moment these are not formal proposals from the government BUT we must act NOW to show our opposition!
At the federal level, the Convergence Review Committee is currently "taking a broad look at range of regulatory issues across the broadcasting, telecommunications and radio-communications sectors and is on track to present its final report to Government by 31 March 2012", according to Stephen Conroy, the federal government Minister for Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy [media release - click here].
An 'Independent Inquiry into Media and Media Regulation' has just been completed by Former Justice of the Federal Court of Australia, Mr Ray Finkelstein QC. Senator Conroy released the report of this 'Independent Media Inquiry' on Friday 2 March.
He said that the Report has been forwarded to the Convergence Review Committee for its consideration in its final report. "The Government will take a considered approach to the Inquiry's report in conjunction with the Convergence Review before responding," Senator Conroy said. Read Senator Conroy's Media Release - click here.
Some of the proposals in Judge Finkelstein's report are concerning. Now is the time to write to the federal government - and the Opposition and Independents - to urge them not to implement this proposed censorship of the media.
An article in The Australian has highlighted some major issues proposed by Mr Finkelstein's report:
* A statutory regulator - the 'News Media Council' - would be established with the power to prosecute media companies in the courts.
The scope of this Council could be extended - under the Report's proposal - to include monitoring of websites and blogs - and even Facebook and Twitter!
Read Chris Kenny's assessment in The Australian - "Media Coverage reflects reality"
Free Speech Australia has been set up to expose what is happening - and to enable people to act.
They say, "Under this proposal, any online site that involves the "public dissemination" of information that gets more than 40 hits a day will be subject to Big Brother censorship and regulation!!!"
ACTION: Contact all your MPs NOW - one federal MP in House of Reps - 12 Senators.
Julia Gillard: http://www.pm.gov.au/contact-your-pm
2. Repeal 18C
Mark was brought to Australia by the IPA - the Institute of Public Affairs. The IPA has now launched a campaign called 'Repeal 18C' which is the section of the federal Racial Discrimination Act that deals with 'racial hatred'. [Click here to read 18C]. This is the law that Andrew Bolt was recently found guilty of breaching for his writings about aborigines.
The IPA campaign urges us to write to Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott and Bob Brown to ask them to repeal this law.
We also want to ensure that federal vilification laws are not extended - to include homosexuality and religion. Of course, we also want various state vilification laws repealed, but this is a good start.
Read more about the 'Repeal 18C' campaign