The debate about sedition laws was featured on my old blog in November last year. Readers may remember that the Senate Committee that examined the legislation recommended that the section updating sedition provisions be deleted from the latest ‘anti-terror’ laws being rushed through Parliament. The government didn’t agree with that recommendation and used their Senate majority to ensure the law passed with the sedition provisions retained. However, they did agree to get the Australian Law Reform Commission to review the sedition laws.
That review – titled “Fighting Words” – was tabled in the Senate today. There are 27 recommendations, which you can read by clicking here. The media release put out by the Commission specifically notes that they believe the government should:
• drop the ‘red rag’ term ‘sedition’ from federal laws;
• further refine the existing law to require the Crown to prove that a person urged others to use force or violence against community groups or the institutions of democratic government, and with the intention that this violence would eventuate; and
• lead a process through the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General to reform state and territory laws in this area “which mostly are a good deal worse than the federal law”.
Other key recommendations include:
- amending the offences of ‘assisting’ the enemy, to clarify that this refers to material assistance—such as providing arms, funds, personnel or strategic information;
- outright repeal of the outdated ‘unlawful associations’ provisions in the Crimes Act, which have been superseded by more recent laws dealing with terrorist organisations; and
- reviewing some old, related offences—such as ‘treachery’ and ‘sabotage’—to determine whether these should now be repealed or ‘modernised’.