18C: We need Parliament to repeal it, rather than judges strike it down

18C: We need Parliament to repeal it, rather than judges strike it down, by James Allen. A review of No Offence Intended: Why 18C is Wrong by Joshua Forrester, Lorraine Finlay and Augusto Zimmermann.

Remember the John Stuart Mill defence of free speech, which goes something like this: “Truth and the best long-term consequences are most likely to emerge when people are free to say anything short of advocating physical harm to others. They can mock you, ridicule you, offend you, humiliate you, you name it. Because in the cauldron of competing ideas bad ideas lose out, eventually, and good ideas get tested and have to earn their place. So to live in a free society, citizens have to grow a thick skin. Because once government gets in the speech-regulating game, they will always over-extend, over-reach and over-regulate.” …

Book cover

Once you read this book you will understand how precarious 18C is against the backdrop of existing judicial understandings of our Constitution. But where the authors and I diverge is that I do not want the judges to strike down 18C.

I want Parliament to repeal it. Our judges are already too big for their boots. Pander to that and you won’t get to pick and choose when those same judges will over-ride the elected Parliament in other matters using the same sort of “creative” interpretive approach, though you can be certain that it will happen at future times when you don’t like the substantive outcome.


hat-tip Stephen Neil