Monday 1st September, 2014

Australian Conservative

More media regulation will do the nation a disservice, Cory Bernardi says

Earlier this year I travelled to England for a series of speaking engagements and meetings. Specifically, I was interested in learning more about the ongoing battle over censorship and media regulation.

The English freedom lovers have been battling legal injunctions (and super-injunctions) used to stop public debate. There are also some prominent people calling for increased regulation of the mainstream media to stifle opinion and thought that others might find offensive.

We face similar calls here in Australia – mostly from the government and the perpetually outraged left of the political spectrum.

Recently the English have had a serious debate about super-injunctions, which are legal instruments used to prohibit the publishing of details related to the lives of those who attempt to protect their privacy.

(Image: Bigstockphoto.com/provasilich.)

How can the law manage social media phenomena like Twitter when thousands, perhaps millions, of people are transgressing a legal judgment?

Importantly, the question of jurisdiction arises. How realistic is it to bind some media users and not others?

In the case of mainstream media and public comment, each year we see more moves to restrict what we can and can’t say, on the basis of “causing offence”.

This was previously the gambit of communist and socialist regimes: authorities wielded power over the press and the public, dictating what could be reported and discussed.

Why are we now seeking to go back to the days of increasing censorship?

Those that are upset by criticism or have something to hide will never stop trying to chip away at our most cherished freedoms. However, the consequences of supporting such an agenda can often extend far beyond the initial concerns.

That’s why I am worried about Labor’s push for media regulation. Goaded on by the Greens, the government is seeking to stifle free speech because it can’t stand to be criticised in the public sphere.

By applying further government regulations to what our free media or the public are allowed to say, we do a great disservice to our country and future generations of Australians who deserve, as much as we do, to benefit from the freedoms that we enjoy.

This an edited version of a longer opinion piece by South Australian Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi. The full version and an archive of his columns are available at his website – “Common Sense Lives Here”.



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