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Is free speech under attack?


Brigid Veale SCU Communications Manager
2 May 2006
The impact of the Federal Government's Anti Terrorism Act on the freedom of speech will be discussed at a seminar at Southern Cross University's Coffs Harbour campus on Tuesday, May 9.

The seminar 'Is free speech in Australian under attack? Sedition, Civil Society and Terrorism' is being hosted by SCU's Centre for Cultural Diversity and Social Change. The keynote speaker will be Shannon Harvey, the co-convenor of Amnesty's NSW Human Rights and Security Network.

SCU senior lecturer and seminar organiser, Dr Richard Hil, said the Anti Terrorism Act had direct implications for the freedom of speech.

"No-one is absolutely clear about what it is they can or cannot say under his new legislation. What are the implications of the sedition provisions in terms of people being able to express themselves? No-one, least of all the current government, is clear about any of this," Dr Hil said.

"This legislation has put Australia at odds with a lot of countries, such as the UK and USA, who have dropped sedition from their statute books. In contrast, by introducing sedition in law the Howard Government has joined the likes of Zimbabwe, Cuba, North Korea and China, where the laws are used to stamp out opposition."

Dr Hil said the seminar would give people the opportunity to discuss their views on the legislation.

"A panel of leading civil liberties and human rights advocates will talk about the implications of this legislation in terms of freedom of speech. There will also be opportunity for people to raise issues and ask questions."

Panel members will include Dr Hil, lawyer Mr Adrian Lipscombe, Reverend Chris Lockley of the Bellingen Institute, and Jennifer Grainger from Free Speech Oz.

The seminar will be held in the D block lecture theatre, Coffs Harbour campus. It will follow the launch at 5.30pm of the Bellingen Institute, a new organisation set up to highlight the various challenges facing non-metropolitan Australia. The cost is $10, $5 concessions.

For information contact Dr Hil on 66593324.