Media Release

Another nail in the coffin for free speech in Victoria

The right to free speech in Victoria has been dealt another lethal blow with Councillor Melissa Ferguson of the Latrobe City Council “ordered to apologise” for personal social media posts.

Victorian State Director for the Australian Christian Lobby (ACL), Jasmine Yuen, said, “Councillor Ferguson is not the first to be targeted and she won’t be the last. Victorian GP, Jereth Kok, had his license stripped away after he posted various conservative views on social media. Neither the posts of Ms Ferguson or Dr Kok have included hatred or bigotry. Rather they were simply expressing views that, until 5 minutes ago in history, were mainstream, conservative opinions. Attacks on our freedom of speech such as this are inconsistent with Australia’s international human rights obligations and are out of step with equivalent European laws.

“If the Federal Government’s proposed laws to censor ‘misinformation’ and ‘disinformation’ are passed online service providers will be compelled to censor online speech that it considers to be ‘harmful’.

“The Bill would impose some of the most draconian controls on free speech in the Western world, and further weaponise State government over-reach such as what has occurred in Councillor Ferguson’s case. It would impel government bureaucrats and big tech to silence and censor speech that goes far beyond reasonable limitation, giving them power to silence religious and political speech that contradicts prevailing ideologies and political messaging. The government have failed to provide any explanation of what speech and communication harms the Bill will prevent that are not already covered in civil and criminal law.”

Ms Yuen concluded, “Every citizen living in Australia, including Councillor Ferguson, is entitled to freedom of speech and expression. No one should be robbed of their right to express their views and beliefs. As our national anthem says, we are one and free.”

The Australian Christian Lobby calls on the federal government to throw out their plans to introduce the draconian misinformation and disinformation bill.  

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