A Taxpayer-Funded War on Taxpayers’ Free Speech

The right to speak and discuss public policy matters is an essential part of democracy – and one which for many years now has been under attack from the Left.

The recent anti-discrimination complaint against me — for saying that women’s sports, changerooms and toilets are designed for females and should remain that way — was a perfect representation of how the Left have weaponised discrimination law, empowered bureaucrats to police ‘wrongthink’, and promoted a dangerous mantra that ‘words are violence’ and debate is ‘hate speech’.

Over the last few years, left-wing politicians, academics and activists have fully subscribed to the tactic of suppressing views they don’t agree with. Across the world, we’ve seen businesses, universities, councils, tribunals, courts, the media and other institutions at best fail to stand up to these demands, and at worst actively support and cheer-lead for the suppression of free speech.

Emboldened by this institutional support, woke activists continually extend the limits of how far they can compel people to think and say things which are clearly not true. How else do you explain the bizarre phenomenon which has emerged out of the US of ‘anti-racist’ training which forces white employees to declare themselves white supremacists and racists on the basis of their skin colour? Every sensible person recognises that judging people and assuming characteristics on the basis of skin colour is the very epitome of racism.

Likewise, we are being compelled to forget everything we know about the terms ‘man’, ‘woman’, ‘male’ and ‘female’. Cancer-awareness groups refer to ‘people with prostates’ and ‘people with ovaries’ rather than give clear advice about who is at risk from deadly diseases. A trans identifying male in Canada infamously dragged female beauticians through the Courts for refusing to wax his testicles.

The overwhelming majority of people know that these situations are ludicrous, yet anyone who addresses them publicly is confronted with a multi-pronged attack from the woke – horrific online abuse (google ‘JK Rowling’), being dragged before discrimination tribunals (myself and many others), and pressure from employers, sports clubs and other captured institutions to modify your behaviour or face consequences.

These tactics have huge implications on the rights of citizens to engage in debate on public policy matters. The new ground rules of the woke, and their re-writing of language to mean whatever activists say it means, puts Australians at risk of legal action for discussing topics which are of national and international public interest.

Topics like who can compete in women’s sport, who can access women’s health services and women’s prisons, whether it’s medically and legally appropriate to give children drugs to stop them going through puberty on the basis of their gender dysphoria are all important public policy matters. Yet according to activists and bureaucrats, any discussion of these issues which doesn’t fully accord with their radical views should be shut down.

And according to anti-discrimination tribunals and human rights commissions across Australia – the activists may well be right when they say common sense points of view and political debate are not allowed. Anti-discrimination laws, both at Commonwealth and state levels, prohibit language that ‘offends’ or ‘insults’ – entirely subjective terms which allow the perpetually offended to claim anyone who disagrees with them is breaking the law.

With every day, Australians, high-profile figures and elected representatives all being hauled before courts and tribunals to answer for the crime of offending someone, it’s only a matter of time before this issue reaches the flashpoint of an unelected bureaucrat attempting to intervene in an election campaign by ruling that one side’s position simply can’t be expressed. Given the past behaviour of these anti-discrimination and human rights commissions, I think we can safely predict it won’t be Labor or Greens candidates who are told their views are too ‘offensive’ to express to voters.

The only way to have a true contest of ideas in a democracy is to allow everyone to speak freely and openly. How else can you understand someone’s views? How else do you learn new information which may contradict your existing position? How else does a voter weigh up the pros and cons of each argument and select the candidate who best represents their views?

As the comedian Ricky Gervais often says, just because you’re offended doesn’t mean you’re right. It certainly shouldn’t mean that you have the right to stop someone else speaking. But until parliaments take action to reset the balance, that’s exactly what it does mean in Australia.

Claire Chandler is a Liberal Senator for Tasmania

16 thoughts on “A Taxpayer-Funded War on Taxpayers’ Free Speech

  • DG says:

    The deep left aim seem to be to seek to control language as the first stage to controlling society: thus its normal concourse is disrupted and the way is opened for the elimination of the family as the dominating influence on society through the raising of children and the privacy of affection and opinion in a trusting conclave.

  • Michael says:

    The Tasmanian Government should change theIr anti-discrimination laws to prevent this from happening. The Liberals are in power in Tasmania – your party, Claire.

  • R Martin Luther says:

    Michael, wish it were that easy. the Tasmanian electoral system makes a majority government very hard. Currently the Liberals govern with the support of one independently minded Liberal or one independently minded Labor member. It is unlikely that they would support change without strong public pressure. Even then the upper house has a strong left blocking vote. The Liberals do not control the upper house. This bad law was created by the previous Green/Labor coalition. They will not want it changed!
    Martin Luther

  • Lonsdale says:

    I voted for Senator Chandler but I doubt she subscribes or reads Quadrant. Do you Senator?

    • Roger Franklin says:

      Editor: The Senator provided this piece to Quadrant, which shares her revulsion at taxpayer-funded, politically correct scolds using the resources of the State to harass the sort of people who wouldn’t be welcome at their dinner parties. Of course she reads Quadrant. She’s intelligent — RF

  • Ian MacDougall says:

    “Anti-discrimination laws, both at Commonwealth and state levels, prohibit language that ‘offends’ or ‘insults’ – entirely subjective terms which allow the perpetually offended to claim anyone who disagrees with them is breaking the law.”
    The last I heard on this was from Senator George Brandis: “People have a right to be bigots.”
    The ABC fact checkers got onto this, and came to the opposite conclusion. But having read their contribution (see below) I still think Brandis has to be right, even though as I see it, it is a bit of a legal minefield. (And I am not a lawyer.)
    Threatening language has long been banned. It is the ‘assault’ part of ‘assault and battery.’ But if people do not have a right to be bigots, the way is open for the introduction of thought police.

  • Nezysquared says:

    What I would say to Ms Chandler is that this is the inevitable end result when politicians decide to legislate on these issues in the first place. Politicians carefully weighed the value and implications of introducing such legislation, voted on it, and these new rules subsequently become the law of the land. This tosh doesn’t suddenly appear on the statute books.

  • ianl says:


    >”The law of unintended consequences …”

    Unintended perhaps, although I doubt that, but most certainly not unpredictable.

    Nonetheless, Claire Chandler is not in the Tasmanian Cabinet so is not directly responsible for this mess of rancid treacle. I would hope that she has used what influence she may have in haranguing the Tasmanian Cabinet to repeal this legislation, but since that hasn’t happened it seems likely her influence is trivial.

    Her article here is an outcry of genuine, but impotent, dismay. Her willingness to undergo the intentionally humiliating process of a public kangaroo court is testimony to that, I think. It won’t remove this obnoxious legislation, nor its’ obnoxious Commissioner, though.

  • Peter Smith says:

    Some of the comments may appear to be unkind to Senator Chandler but those who believe in free speech are sick of politicians of all stripes (particularly Liberals) who in the end result do nothing. 18C is on the books and I might have missed it but I don’t think its repeal or even amendment is high on the to-do list of Morrison et al.

  • Lonsdale says:

    Peter, as usual you are absolutely right. Does my Liberal Senator support the issues I, and Quadrant, are interested in? Or is my Senator simply using us because she accidentally offended her ABC supporters?

  • lbloveday says:

    Morrison on 18C, from the Sydney Morning Herald (and similar “everywhere”) March 1 2017:
    Treasurer Scott Morrison, preparing for the release of key national accounts figures on Wednesday, warned that changing the 18c racial hate laws would not help reduce unemployment or improve any other economic metric.
    “I know there are a lot of people who are interested in this issue,” he said. “As a senior figure in this government … I know this issue doesn’t create one job, doesn’t open one business, doesn’t give anyone one extra hour. It doesn’t make housing more affordable or energy more affordable.
    “I don’t see any intersection between that issue and those priorities.”
    I’ve seen nothing in the interim to suggest he has shifted his position an iota.

  • Greg Schofield says:

    Read Cynical Theories – How activist scholarship mad everything about race, gender and identity – and why this harms everybody. To counter the insensible, we must understand the Theory, with caps.
    Cutting through in this field is impossible, and there is little support to upset others. Theory works if you stand by and let it happen.

  • restt says:

    If you are found guilty .. carry it as a badge of honour.

    I think you will be in the company of many in the future.

    My opinion and I will say it forever is that There are 2 sexes. Men and women. It is biological … penis and vagina.

    You can be whatever you want, love who you want, wear whatever clothes you want but there is only 2 sexes

  • Davidovich says:

    Martin Luther obviously understands the Tasmanian political system but if our Liberals don’t even try to amend these obnoxious laws then they are abandoning one of the major reasons people vote for them. Values matter. Claire Chandler’s case is a perfect situation for them to act when a large majority of the public are clearly on her side on this matter.

  • Rob H says:

    Sadly your only real alternative is to take the law and the Commission to higher courts, probably ending up at the Supreme Court. These laws are illegal under Common Law going back to the Magna Carta. Governments have sought to modify the rights of individuals under Common Law using Statute Law to “expand” and “interpret” Common Law rather than challenge it in court. To be clear, no government can negate your rights under Common Law, that was the whole substance of the Magna Carta and the English1689 Bill of Rights. This limit on Government under Common Law was the basis for the US Declaration of Independence. Australians and Canadians seem to be willing to be subservient to Governments overriding individual rights whenever it is politically expedient. People used to this abuse of power will accept pograms and concentration camps.

  • gardner.peter.d says:

    I have posted this before but it is mind boggling and true and relevant.
    I recently enquired of the Human Rights Commission how I might make a complaint about suppression of free speech at the radio station where I work – specifically in the proposed content of my forthcoming broadcast. I was told the HRC only deals with complaints against the Federal Government.
    So it would seem that there is no legal redress for suppression by the ABC or any other institution of the state apart from the Feds. or any employer or organisation, despite Australia being a signatory of The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, of which Article 19 states:
    “1. Everyone shall have the right to hold opinions without interference.
    “2. Everyone shall have the right to freedom of expression; this right shall include freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds, regardless of frontiers, either orally, in writing or in print, in the form of art, or through any other media of his choice.
    “3. The exercise of the rights provided for in paragraph 2 of this article carries with it special duties and responsibilities. It may therefore be subject to certain restrictions, but these shall only be such as are provided by law and are necessary:
    “(a) For respect of the rights or reputations of others;
    “(b) For the protection of national security or of public order, or of public health or morals.”

    The Attorney General’s guidance is also to reinforce the primacy of free expression. How you can get the AG to intervene I do not know.

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