Tuesday, 18 September 2012
That the Senate—
(a) supports the rights of Australians to peacefully protest and condemns violent protests;
(b) deplores the violence perpetrated by Islamic extremists during protests on 15 September 2012 in Sydney that led to the injury of police officers; and
(c) condemns Green Left Weekly for its publication of articles blaming police for the confrontation that was instigated by violent protestors.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
Outside this chamber, 95 per cent of Australians would support this motion. Writing of last Saturday's protests, the Green Left Weekly published this:
… the police goaded the protesters, in particular the youth, and so the police are responsible for the clashes that took place.
That is what the Green Left Weekly said. Is there anything more toxic in the politics of this country than the self-loathing of the Green Left Weekly and the moral vanity of the Australian Left, both beholden as they are, as they always have been, to outmoded notions of political correctness? This motion should pass with the authority of the entire Senate. If it does not, it will be an absolute and utter disgrace.
The government does not believe the Senate should condemn the press, even the Green Left Weekly, for views expressed in its pages. It is self-evident that all senators support forms of democratic expression. The chamber itself is the embodiment of our democracy. The Prime Minister made the government's views about the protest activity clear on the weekend: violent protest is never justified. Further action is in the hands of the New South Wales police and, if warranted, the courts.
We support the first parts of this motion. Of course we support the right to peaceful protest and we condemn the violent protests that occurred. But this motion also condemns a media outlet for publishing a piece that the mover disagrees with. As it happens, I also disagree with some of the media commentary in response to the protest. I disagree with Andrew Bolt, who said:
If this comes from opening our doors, then shut them. If this comes from multiculturalism, then scrap it.
If this is the fruit of our tolerance, let's try intolerance.
I find those views abhorrent. I find those views worthy of condemnation. However, I have not sought to condemn those views, because I do believe in a free press. There is a touch of irony in this, in that the other side, who have made such a song and dance about free speech, now move a motion to condemn a publication they do not agree with.