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Sunday, August 20, 2017

Brandis Bolts to override serious concerns on racial slur laws

Posted by Steve on March 20, 2014

Freedom-of-Speech
The Australian Greens have renewed calls for Attorney-General George Brandis to drop his bid to amend the Racial Discrimination Act, following the minister’s responses in Question Time today.

Australian Greens spokesperson for legal affairs Senator Penny Wright today asked the Attorney-General why he would not reconsider in light of concerns raised by Liberal MP Ken Wyatt.

“It seems that nothing will stop the Abbott Government from pushing ahead with these changes to the law to license the public humiliation of people because of their race,” Senator Wright said.

“These amendments should be called the ‘Andrew Bolt Protection Bill’ from now on, because that can be the only reason the Government remains so determinedly single-minded.

“Ethnic groups from around the country, the Chairman of the Prime Minister’s Indigenous Advisory Council Mr Warren Mundine and now several MPs within the Liberal Party have raised concerns that drastically altering sections 18C and 18D would give a green light to hate speech.

“It’s all well and good for Mr Brandis to say that the Liberal Party allows for these kind of disagreements, but if he and Prime Minister Abbott have no intention of listening and taking on board the feedback of their party room and the community – what’s the point?

“The Australian Greens will not support any bid to weaken protections for vulnerable people.”

Election signs ban trashes democratic tradition

Posted by Jim McDonald on March 4, 2012

Election signs are a sign that democracy is at work and there is an election in place.

Signs enable parties that aren’t supported by mining billionaires, like the sitting Noosa LNP member, Hon. Glen Elmes, to have a chance at getting their message out. The LNP is supported by mining magnate Clive Palmer. The Greens are supported by small  donations from individuals.

Candidate signage is an Australian and international democratic tradition found in every Western liberal democracy. However, Glen Elmes is prepared to support his mates on the Sunshine Coast Regional Council trashing an Australian electioneering  tradition and almost certainly breaching the Local Government Act.

The Council has announced that it will limit signs in Noosa to two for each candidate.

This limitation to two signs is disrespectful of the democratic political process. Mr Elmes runs the facile visual pollution argument, and rests his case on having both won and lost elections in the absence of signage. That reasoning is irrelevant to the matter of democratic principle. Indeed, I would argue that he presents the spectacle of an elected member of Parliament supporting the Council in breaking the provisions of the Local Government Act 2009. The Act expressly prevents the Council from prohibiting signs. While the Council limits two signs to a candidate, the Council prohibits any other signs. In my view the Council is breaking the law by putting any number on election signs.

Section 36(1)(b) of the Queensland Local Government Act 2009 states, without any caveat, that “A local government must not make a local law that … (b) prohibits the placement of election signs or posters.” What is clearer than that?

That provision leaves it open to regulation about placement but not limiting the number and certainly not insulting the intelligence of the voters and the candidates who put themselves forward for public office. If the Sunshine Coast Regional Council wants some consistency about placement, then it ought to consult the reasonable guidelines issued by the Department of Transport and Main Roads.

Mr Elmes’s support of the two sign announcement is another example of the LNP having lost any sense of a fair go and why his party is no better than the State Labor Government which ran roughshod over the Noosa Shire. The Greens stand much closer to the great Australian social justice traditions than either party, both of which have lost their way.

Jim McDonald
Greens Candidate,
Noosa Electoral District


Greens launch first stage of campaign to defend media diversity in Australia

Posted by Steve on February 3, 2012

Australian Greens communications spokesperson Senator Scott Ludlam today launched a campaign urging the Government to strengthen media cross ownership laws and protect diversity in the Australian mass media.

Senator Ludlam said the recent Fairfax raid by mining billionaire Gina Rinehart was just an example of the ongoing concentration of media ownership in Australia.

“This is not about Mrs Rinehart’s personal world view. It’s about the mass media in Australia being run by a tiny handful of people which is getting smaller and smaller.”

“Eleven of Australia’s twelve capital city daily papers are owned by either Fairfax or Rupert Murdoch’s News Ltd. The remaining newspaper is effectively controlled by the owner of Channel Seven. It stands to reason that the concentration of media ownership in this country has gone far enough.”

“Disturbingly, Australia is already ranked 30th in the world for press freedom. By comparison, Canada is 10th and New Zealand is 13th.” (Reporters Without Borders – Press Freedom Index 2011/2012)

Mining billionaire Gina Rinehart has bought almost 14% of Fairfax Media, adding to her 10% stake in Channel Ten. The reach of Fairfax extends beyond the city mastheads the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age into regional towns right across Australia.

“The weakening of Australia’s media ownership laws by the Howard Government has had a negative impact on the integrity of public debate in Australia, a situation that will worsen if further concentration of ownership is permitted.”

“With the support of the Australian Greens, the Government can take the urgent action required to protect diversity in media ownership in Australia. We have asked the Australian people to write to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy through our website – http://www.greensmps.org.au/media-ownership – to urge him to take action before it is too late.”

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Larissa's Maiden Speech