Page 4190 - Week 13 - Wednesday, 18 November 2015

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Australia, the land of the fair go. What has happened to the notion of free speech in Australia? Has 1984 finally come to Australia?

In Australia, under the influence of the self-styled progressive parties—Labor and the Greens—we have seen attempts to curtail the expression of views that do not comply with the dominant zeitgeist. When Archbishop Porteous distributed the document that outlines the 2,000-year-old views of the Catholic Church, which are upheld by Australian law, Australian Marriage Equality put out a call for someone who was offended to take the matter to the discrimination commissioner. In an Orwellian twist, not one person to whom this document was distributed could bring themselves to take the matter to the discrimination commissioner; rather, it was a Greens candidate at the next federal election.

Noted commentator and compatriot Sam Gregg recently wrote on his blog:

I am coming to the conclusion that, for many Westerners today, the greatest crime of all is … to hurt other people’s feelings. When someone responds to your argument by saying “that offends me” or “that will offend X group” you know you are most likely dealing with someone who self-defines as a progressive. But the point of tolerance is to allow people to express different views and even disagree strongly, without killing each other. Appeal to tolerance, however, is now used in a progressive way to shut down discussion.

I could not agree more. The case of Archbishop Porteous being brought before the discrimination commissioner shows the level of intolerance of some and their desire to shut down discussion on the marriage debate.

The case of Archbishop Porteous demonstrates the desire of the parties of the left to silence their opponents not by the strength of their argument but by institutions of a so-called civil society. The fact that Labor and the Greens combined in the Senate last week to deny a debate on free speech issues surrounding this case shows just how low the so-called progressive parties have sunk in their desire to mute the voice of anyone who speaks out against their views.

The case of Archbishop Porteous shows the decline of public discourse in Australia. The case of Archbishop Porteous shows that we should be very afraid about the health of our democracy. As parliamentarians, we should be standing up for the rights of our fellow Australians to express themselves. Instead, many progressive parliamentarians seem to be participating in tearing down decent political discourse.

My challenge to all members in this place is to stand up for the rights of people to express their views even if we disagree with them.


MADAM DEPUTY SPEAKER: I would like to welcome members of the returned services. You are very welcome.

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