Alister Henskens portrait
Alister Henskens portrait

Coalition Fixes Labor's Hate Speech Legislation

Writing on a piece of paper

The NSW Parliament got behind the Coalition’s efforts to amend the Crimes Act in a way that allowed NSW Police to prosecute those publicly threatening or inciting violence but prevented this law from being weaponised by private citizens.

Opposition Leader Mark Speakman said the Government’s poor drafting could have had an adverse impact by allowing private prosecutions by people trying to shut down free speech rather than protecting people from threats and calls to violence.

“We supported legislation that would allow NSW Police, and not just the DPP, to prosecute public threats or inciting of violence on the grounds of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex or HIV/AIDS status,” Mr Speakman said.

“We had moved amendments that would allow Police to do so, while stopping private prosecutions, which the Minns Government voted down before being forced into accepting something similar by the Legislative Council.”

Shadow Attorney-General Alister Henskens said Minns Labor Government’s proposed legislation could have resulted in the opposite effect of what was intended and further inflamed tensions within the community.

“Our intention was always to support a law that would promote community harmony and ensure that people don’t feel fearful in their own community,” said Mr Henskens.

“However, without our amendments, people could have faced private criminal prosecutions from a person motivated to use the law to create disharmony in the community.”

“Thanks to our approach, it is easier for Police to use powers to bring a case while avoiding a situation where private individuals may have been targeted by others who might simply disagree with them.”

“The Parliament has also passed an amendment that will see a statutory review of these laws in two years, to ensure that they are working as intended.”