The Abbott Government is restricting the speech of the following:
- Academics: Academics can now have funding cut if Abbott Govt deems their work “ridiculous.” Normally, there is independence between politicians deeming which academic work is worthy of funding and which is not. What if an academic’s work is criticizing the Govt?
- Asylum Seekers: Asylum seekers shipped to offshore detention centres have little free speech – little access to talk to journalists or others who might allow them to be heard, no protections offered to those who speak up in the ‘Who killed Reza Barati?’ inquiry meaning many will self-censor etc. Further, funding for asylum seekers’ legal services has been cut, which has many impacts on asylum seekers ability to be heard - especially those who are behind detention walls who rely on their lawyer to ‘speak’ for them.
- Environmental protesters: The Abbott Govt has suggested they may ban secondary boycotts of unethical companies. Environmental groups’ right to such boycotts seems the specific target.
- Indigenous people: Abbott Govt will abolish “scores of statutory indigenous governance bodies”, which weakens Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s free speech on matters in their own communities. Further, funding to ATSI legal services has been cut which has various impacts on ATSI people’s ability to be heard.
- Journalists: Abbott considers it unacceptable for journalists to run stories that criticize the Navy, stating journalists should side with the ‘home team’ .
- Palestine protesters: Those who merely express support for the (non-violent!) BDS movement will have their funding cut. Even anti-BDS pro-Israel figures think this is going too far.
- Public Servants: Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet are disallowed from discussing their political views on social media, and must dob in colleagues if they disobey.
- Refugees: A new 'Code of Behaviour' limits refugees’ ability to protest/enjoy free speech in public settings.
- Social Media users: Department of Immigration threatened a refugee activist to take down a Facebook post on her wall criticising the Govt/ a specific public servant.
- West Papua protesters: Abbott promised Indonesia that he would “do everything that we possibly can to discourage” West Papuan independence protesters.
NOTE: To be able to speak freely, we must have info on what our Govt is doing. Restricting access to info, however, has been a trend with the Abbott Govt. For example, media access to asylum seekers boats info has been cut severely. Abbott dismissed Australians’ right to know what our government is doing with regards to asylum seekers mere 'idle curiosity.’ Further, media access to ministers has become more difficult (PM’s office’s permission needed before any Minister speaks to media).
The Abbott Government is freeing the speech of the following:
- People who wish to offend others based on race: Abbott will scrap section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, so it is now easier for people to offend others based on their race (even if doing so unreasonably or in bad faith).