The Liberal Democrats are opposed to government restrictions on speech. This is a principled position. Free speech is the bedrock of a free, liberal society. This includes the right to engage in speech that others find offensive, or even blasphemous.
David Leyonhjelm, Liberal Democrat Senator for New South Wales, has championed free speech in the Federal Parliament. His principled stand against s18C of the Racial Discrimination Act has aided the free speech movement in Australia considerably.
The Liberal Democrats acknowledge that there is a significant distinction between content that is merely offensive and content that incites violence.
As a result, should a Liberal Democrat MLA vote on a bill to prohibit so-called “offensive” advertisement—such as in the case of Wicked campervans—they would certainly vote against any such restriction. We consider that any slogan that could reasonably be understood to incite violence would likely breach other legislation. Our position would turn on the exact scenario to hand.
Your community should not consider our position to be an endorsement of the content of Wicked campervans. In fact, many reasonable people are likely to find them to be in poor taste. We feel that the best means for people to register their distaste is through petitioning the responsible company, or else choosing to take their business elsewhere. We don’t believe that government should wield its power—such as through deregistering motor vehicles that are otherwise perfectly roadworthy—to protect people from material that is merely “offensive” in the eyes of some. The Liberal Democrats also consider this is a case where freedom of speech can bring social benefits, as members of the community are able to use the information signalled by hirers of such vehicles when they make their own decisions about how they like to associate with others in the community.
Because the Liberal Democrats will champion free speech, you can expect all Liberal Democrat MLAs to fight for the rights of your community where others might consider their speech “offensive”. The Liberal Democrats are strongly opposed to the ban on silent protests outside abortion clinics. We are also strongly opposed to the notion that Australians are incapable of having a public debate—whether through a plebiscite or other discussion—about something as significant as the freedom to marry issue.
We consider the ACT Liberal Democrats’ stance as a principled one that will best represent the interests of the Christian community of issues of speech.