Freedom of speech in Australia

Inquiry into the operation of Part IIA of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth) and related procedures under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 (Cth)

28 February 2017

© Commonwealth of Australia 2017
ISBN 978-1-76010-526-6

View the report as a single document - (PDF 5188KB)

View the report as separate downloadable parts:

Membership of the committee (PDF 182KB)
Glossary (PDF 265KB)
Recommendations (PDF 285KB)
Chapter 1 (PDF 296KB)

Referral and terms of reference
Conduct of the inquiry
Structure of the report
Notes on references

Chapter 2 (PDF 669KB)

Background to, and enactment of, Part IIA of the RDA
Current anti-vilification laws at the federal level
The case for change – repealing sections 18C and 18D
The case for change – amending sections 18C and 18D
The case for retaining the existing protections in sections 18C and 18D
The role for education
Committee views and recommendations

Chapter 3 (PDF 689KB)

Complaint handling processes
Committee views and recommendations

Chapter 4 (PDF 507KB)

Community education and awareness of human rights
The Bill Leak case
Prohibiting solicitation
Committee views and recommendations

Chapter 5 (PDF 397KB)

AHRC's engagement in freedom of speech issues
The ALRC Freedoms Inquiry and other laws impinging on freedom of speech

Additional comments by Labor members (PDF 397KB)

Twenty years of helping to prevent racial hatred
Current law is settled
Changing section 18C would send a dangerous message
Racism causes harm
Economic cost of racism
There is no substantive evidence of a 'chilling effect'
Removing or watering down section 18C may have an isolating effect on minority communities
Hard cases make bad law
Importance of Access to Justice
Resourcing of the AHRC
Consideration of law reform requires careful consideration not rushed consultation

Dissenting Report by Australian Greens (PDF 453KB)

Referral and Terms of Reference
Executive Summary
The scope of s 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (Cth)
The Australian Human Rights Commission

Appendix 1 (PDF 388KB)
Appendix 2 (PDF 358KB)
Appendix 3 (PDF 268KB)

Tabled documents
Answers to questions on notice
Additional information

Appendix 4 (PDF 283KB)

Committee Secretariat contact:

Committee Secretary
Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights
PO Box 6100,
Parliament House
Canberra ACT 2600

Phone: 02 6277 3823
Fax: 02 6277 5767