Labor fears freedom of speech changes will take the state back to 'bad, old days"

Parliament: Lara Giddings has expressed concern changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act will push society back into the "bad, old days"

Parliament: Lara Giddings has expressed concern changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act will push society back into the "bad, old days"

The State Opposition says proposed changes to the Anti-Discrimination Act would push Tasmanian society back in to the “bad, old days.” 

Labor spokeswoman Lara Giddings said on Wednesday the changes would “turn back the clock” and push society back into old habits. 

Proposed amendments would require the state’s Anti-Discrimination Commissioner to reject a complaint if it could not have been predicted an act would cause offence.  

The changes would also permit people to use religion as a defence for expressing certain views.

“These proposed changes could do a lot of damage to what is a compassionate, inclusive community that we live in here in Tasmania,” Ms Giddings said. 

“A community that is very different to the one that existed when I was first elected in 1996, where racism, sexism, homophobia was almost part of the norm.”

Premier Will Hodgman said the changes would encourage respectful, unfettered debate in the community. 

Health minister Michael Ferguson accused the opposition of fearmongering. 

“What is occurring here is that one side of politics wants to win a social debate by shutting down the opportunity for people who do not agree with them to be able to put forward their views,” Mr Ferguson said. 

“They want to be able to win an argument by depriving a person with a different point of view of the opportunity to speak.”

A bill to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act was tabled in parliament on Tuesday. 

The tabled bill omitted the proposed inclusion of a reasonableness test. 

“The removal of the word ‘reasonably’ from the final draft of proposed amendments to the Anti-Discrimination Act 1998 is proof that Premier, Will Hodgman, is being driven by the hard Right in his party,” Greens leader Cassy O’Connor said. 

“It is clear that the inclusion of a reasonableness test was intended to be included in an attempt to soften the blow of changes to the Act.” 

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