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Premier Hodgman Not Standing By Past Comments on Anti-Discrimination

Parliamentary Activity - Wednesday, 21 September 2016, Cassy O'Connor MP


Wednesday 21 September 2016

Ms O'CONNOR question to PREMIER, Mr HODGMAN

[10.27 a.m.]

Last year in the debate on the House giving in-principle support for marriage equality you stated:

I believe our society and democracy thrives on the basis of freedom of speech that is not unfettered.  My equal hope is that any debate can occur in a manner that is not clouded by prejudice or is unlawful, discriminatory or in breach of reasonable community expectations?

Do you stand by this statement?  If so, how can you justify weakening the law in the manner that the state's Anti-Discrimination Commissioner believes will give licence to bigots, racists, homophobes and misogynists in our community, and will leave already vulnerable people at risk?

ANSWER

Madam Speaker, I thank the member for her question and I reject the notion.  Stating from the outset, I stand by everything I said in that debate.  We want to strengthen the legislation, not weaken it, as you say.  It is you who wants to fetter the right to free speech.  There are certain groups in our community who you do not believe should be able to freely express their views.  That is clear and that is why you are opposed to those with a religious view -

Ms O'BYRNE - Point of order, Madam Speaker. 

Members interjecting.

Madam SPEAKER - Order.  There is a point of order and nobody should be speaking except for the member making the point of order.

Ms O'BYRNE - Madam Speaker, I have heard you call on the Premier to direct his remarks through the Chair and I ask that he do so as you require.

Madam SPEAKER - I have already said that and I am sure the Premier will.

Mr HODGMAN - The member who asks the question, her party and lapdog Labor coalition colleagues want to fetter free speech.  We are moving to strengthen the legislation and allow truly unfettered speech for all groups in our community.  Unlike them, we on this side do not want to select who should be allowed to express their views freely.  We do not want to choose what they are able to say, but that is what members opposite would have us do.

I will give a slightly different perspective.  It comes from somebody opposite, a statesman in this place, who expressed eloquently, perhaps more so than me, how this can affect an individual whose right to expression might be curtailed - as the member who asked the question would so wish.  It came from Mr Llewellyn, who said in this place he wanted to make a short contribution on a motion.  He said:

I find myself in a situation in this debate where I believe I am encountering a level of personal discrimination not unlike what I imagine many with differing sexual and emotional feelings might have felt in a less tolerant society.  I feel this way because I have the audacity to declare that I have strong Christian values based on my own Christian and religious background.  If it were not for the speaking privileges given to this House I find myself almost in the situation that confronts Archbishop Porteous, whereby the very values enjoyed in Australia - freedom of speech, freedom of press, freedom of religion - are cornerstones of our society being inappropriately challenged.

Opposition members interjecting.

Mr HODGMAN - Now you are trying to shut down the words of one your own colleagues.

Well said, Mr Llewellyn.