Is the Australian Attorney General dishonest, or simply stupid?

Roxon‘THE architect of Labor’s draft national anti-discrimination laws has declared the debate about the proposed reforms has spawned a “vicious” campaign aimed at rolling back existing protections.
By “vicious” she means truthful disagreement. And the existing protections are no such thing, unless she means protecting opportunists and the serially offended.


….Attorney-General Nicola Roxon insisted that the government was not trying to stop people talking about religious, political or other “topical” issues.
Nobody has claimed that.
The exposure draft of the law has been criticised by media companies and retired NSW chief judge and ABC chairman Jim Spigelman on free speech grounds, as it would allow a discrimination claim over conduct that insulted or offended a person in relation to “protected attributes” including political opinion and religion.
…Ms Roxon says it is not the case that any conduct that a person finds offensive will be unlawful. “What should be clear is that the government is not seeking to regulate the type of language used privately between friends,” Ms Roxon says.
Nobody is claiming that it is.
“It is not seeking to change vilification laws, nor will it seek to prohibit people engaging in a discussion on political, religious or other topical matters. No democratic government ever should.”
Again, nobody says that.
..The bill defines discrimination as including conduct that “offends, insults or intimidates another person in relation to 18 different protected attributes, of which seven – including political opinion and religion – apply only in work-related areas.
…Critics say the bill applies a subjective test of this.
While the racial vilification and sex harassment sections in the new bill refer to a reasonableness test, such an objective test is absent from the general definition of discrimination in the bill.
The existing section of the Racial Discrimination Act used against (Andrew)Bolt, and now mirrored in the bill, refers to whether conduct is “reasonably likely” to offend.
Media outlets have warned that because the section of the proposed bill making discrimination unlawful includes “race” as a protected attribute, complainants could use this section to avoid the difficulties of meeting an objective test under the racial vilification section of the law.
Ms Roxon’s opinion piece today does not address business concerns about the shift in the burden of proof in the bill, which employers say could leave them facing very high costs to defend claims.’
(Via The Australian, which is subscription only.)

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