ARCHIVED Media Releases

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Time for commitment to free speech – AMPAG calls for changes to sedition laws

The Australian Major Performing Arts Group today called on Federal Attorney-General Phillip Ruddock to drop the term sedition from Federal laws as recently recommended by the Australian Law Reform Commission.

Executive Director Helen O’Neil said AMPAG urged the Attorney-General to take up the recommendations to protect commentators, artists and activists from criminal prosecution even when their ideas were unpopular or confronting – as long as they don’t urge the use of violence.

“Performing arts companies believe it is very important for the Australian Government to make a clear commitment in law to the right to freedom of expression at a time when Australians (including Australian artists, writers, actors, directors and musicians) are exploring and debating the meaning of national values.”

“The Australian Law Reform Commission has given the Government 27 recommendations for changes to recent anti-terrorism reforms, many aimed at creating a clear distinction between free speech and conduct calculated to incite violence in the community. Their implementation would send a clear message that the country is proud of its tradition of robust democratic debate,” Helen O’Neil said.

The Attorney-General asked the ALRC to investigate the sedition provisions contained in last year’s anti-terrorism laws, after a Senate committee did not support them, and after a public debate on whether they would lead to censorship and self-censorship in media, theatres, libraries and galleries.

AMPAG is the umbrella group for the 28 major performing arts companies. Based in six states, the companies produce and present for Australian and international audiences in music, drama, dance, opera and circus.

For further information: Helen O’Neil 0417 230 540 or oneilh@ampag.com.au and see www.ampag.com.au

Call to change sedition laws