Strengthened hate speech laws pass NSW Parliament in 'great day' for Australia
By Meredith Griffiths
Posted Thu 21 Jun 2018 at 1:56am
Anti-immigration protesters in Melbourne
Image There has been no successful prosecution under the Anti-Discrimination Act.(AAP: Julian Smith)
Inciting violence against a community or person based on their race in New South Wales could result in three years in jail under new laws which have passed State Parliament.
The Keep New South Wales Safe Alliance, a coalition of about 31 community organisations and leaders, has been lobbying for the changes for three years, saying that previous provisions in the Anti-Discrimination Act had not led to a single prosecution.
They described the passing as a "great day for the people of New South Wales … and Australia".
The bill makes it a crime to "publicly threatening or incite violence" on the grounds of race, religious affiliation, sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex or HIV/AIDS status.
Individuals who incite violence against a community or person based on their race could face up to three years in prison and an $11,000 fine.
The Alliance's spokesman, Vic Alhadeff, has been striving for change for more than 15 years with the Jewish Board of Deputies and is "exhilarated" it has finally come.
He said the old law was so complicated as to be entirely unworkable and there have been a number of incidents in recent weeks and months which have shown the need for the new laws.
"One group on the far right which identifies itself as a Nazi group has been openly calling for death to gays, death to Jews, death to people who do not accord within its philosophy, [and] at the other extreme there's an extremist group, again which has openly called for deaths to Jews," he said.
"The NSW Government to its credit has identified that gap in the legislation and has put together a law which navigates very carefully between freedom of speech and the right not to be subjected to violence.
"[I'm] absolutely exhilarated that this has come to pass, it's a great day for the people of New South Wales and a great day for Australia.
"Every Government in this country should be looking at this legislation as a precedent and giving serious consideration to introducing it."
Attorney-General Mark Speakman said the opportunity for harsher sentencing had been a long time coming.
"We're dismantling significant barriers to prosecuting appalling and often vile actions of those who'd incite violence and police will now investigate these offences from the very beginning," he said.