[LINK] RFC: New ALRC Review of Sedition Laws
Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au
Fri Mar 24 15:01:01 EST 2006
[The ALRC may have gone out on a limb to set up this Review, so it is
important that submissions be made, rather than leaving it to others
Australian Law Reform Commission
Monday, 20 March 2006
ALRC: Are sedition laws necessary and effective?
An independent review of federal sedition laws is asking whether the
controversial laws are necessary and effective.
Australian Law Reform Commission President, Professor David Weisbrot,
called for public comment today with the release of a community
consultation paper Review of Sedition Laws (ALRC Issues Paper 30).
The federal government 'modernised' the old sedition offences in the
Crimes Act last year by enacting the Anti-Terrorism Act (No 2) 2005,
which targets activity promoting terrorist violence.
The sedition laws provoked particular controversy. The main concerns
are that these laws are not sufficiently clear, overlap with other
criminal offences, and may be inconsistent with Australia 's liberal
democratic system by inhibiting freedom of speech.
Prof Weisbrot said it was understandable that the term 'sedition'
prompts strong reactions.
"Sedition laws historically have a political connection. They tend to
be introduced or revived at times of great social stress-in
Australia, for example, during the anti-conscription movement of
World War I, during the height of the Cold War in the 1950s, and now
again with rising concern about international terrorism.
"However, the new offences abandon the old definition of 'sedition',
which turned on 'exciting disaffection against the Sovereign or among
her Majesty's subjects'," he said.
"Instead, the new offences include: 'urging the use of force or
violence' to overthrow the government or interfere with an election;
urging others to assist an organisation or country engaged in armed
hostilities with Australia; or urging others to engage in violence
against particular groups in the community.
"The Issues Paper tries to take some of the emotion out of the debate
and it focuses on whether the new laws are necessary, how clearly
they have been expressed, how effectively they will achieve their
aims and how they fit in with the many other laws dealing with public
order and the special problems of counter-terrorism. For example,
sedition overlaps with other serious offences such as incitement,
treason, treachery, sabotage and racial vilification.
"The review also will look closely at the 'unlawful associations'
provisions of the Crimes Act, which have not been used for decades
and may no longer be needed in light of more recent legislation
dealing with terrorist organisations," he said.
"The Issues Paper asks 24 questions about how best to proceed, and
with a very tight timetable the ALRC is seeking urgent community
feedback on these matters," Prof Weisbrot said.
The Issues Paper and other relevant information about the review are
The ALRC invites anyone with an interest in the sedition inquiry to
make a submission, or to register online and receive email updates on
the progress of the inquiry.
Roger Clarke http://www.anu.edu.au/people/Roger.Clarke/
Xamax Consultancy Pty Ltd 78 Sidaway St, Chapman ACT 2611 AUSTRALIA
Tel: +61 2 6288 1472, and 6288 6916
mailto:Roger.Clarke at xamax.com.au http://www.xamax.com.au/
Visiting Professor in Info Science & Eng Australian National University
Visiting Professor in the eCommerce Program University of Hong Kong
Visiting Professor in the Cyberspace Law & Policy Centre Uni of NSW
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