By JR on Wednesday, February 29, 2012
FREE speech restrictions in racial discrimination laws would be wound back under a federal coalition government.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has revealed the plan to change the laws if he was made prime minister.
The plan would see sections of the Racial Discrimination Act that were used to prosecute Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt last year, after he wrote about light-skinned Aborigines, repealed by the Coalition.
The Australian newspaper reports Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis saying that would mean the removal of provisions that prevent the use of words that could offend or insult.
"We consider that to be an inappropriate limitation on freedom of speech and freedom of public discussion – as was evident in the Andrew Bolt case," he said.
"Offensive and insulting words are part of the robust democratic process which is essential to a free country."
The changes would bring the Act's restrictions on free speech closer to limits found in defamation laws, The Australian reports.
Liability for racial vilification would be limited to comments that humiliate or intimidate.