Friday, 19 January 2024
Hate speech review a positive first step to broader reform
A review announced by the Minns Government into the ‘hate speech’ provision of the Crimes Act 1900 is a welcome start to broader reform to this state’s anti-discrimination laws.
President of the Law Society of NSW Brett McGrath said the review by former Chief Justice Tom Bathurst AC KC of the policy objectives and effectiveness of section 93Z is a timely initiative given current global instability.
“The local flow on effects from international conflicts, are creating a heated and contentious environment for public discourse,” Mr McGrath said.
“Threats and incitement of violence, including those which are racially motivated or directed to adherents of certain religions, are entirely unacceptable. Such conduct risks undermining the strong multicultural fabric that underpins the success of the state of New South Wales.”
Mr McGrath urged that the review allow for a considered, thorough, and open consultation with relevant legal and community stakeholders, including from Law Society members with long experience in this area of the law.
“Changes to the criminal justice system passed without adequate scrutiny may carry significant unintended consequences that undermine their objectives, including public safety and confidence in the rule of law,” Mr McGrath said.
“The Law Society has, on numerous occasions, expressed the view that the piecemeal nature of anti-discrimination and anti-vilification reform over many decades has resulted in inadequate protections in NSW. As part of the NSW Law Reform Commission’s ongoing review of the Anti-Discrimination Act 1977, we have called for a new Act.”
Mr McGrath said such an Act is required to ensure an accessible anti-discrimination regime in NSW.
“Such a regime needs to respond not only to individual instances of discriminatory conduct, but also addresses systemic issues through a strong focus on prevention and education. The Law Society looks forward to making a valuable and constructive contribution to Mr Bathurst’s review, and trusts that any resulting recommendations will be consistent with the Law Reform Commission’s views on broader reform in this area of the law.” Mr McGrath said.
Damien Smith | Director, Media and Public Relations
The Law Society of New South Wales
M: +61 417 788 947 | E: Damien.Smith@lawsociety.com.au