Freedom’s Limits: Speech, Association & Movement in the Australian Legal System

National Freedoms Symposium, Constitutional Centre of Western Australia, Perth, 29 September 2015.

Topic: Freedom of speech, association, and movement receive some limited protection through the operation of the common law and under the Constitution. However, these freedoms are not absolute and are frequently in tension with imperatives such as public safety and the protection of rights of others. For example, in recent years, legislation introduced to combat organised crime and terrorism has made provision for anti-consorting laws and control orders. Similarly, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) curbs offensive speech where this relates to grounds such as a person’s race. In light of the Australian Law Reform Commission’s Interim Report on Rights and Freedoms, released in July 2015, this panel explores the nature of freedom of speech, association, and movement, how they are currently protected, laws that interfere with them, and the circumstances in which such incursions are justified.

Speaking notes: