Unlike most other liberal democratic nations which have enshrined civil rights in the constitution or in a bill of rights, Australian law does not provide for freedom of opinion or expression at a federal level. We are encouraged by discussions on the part of the Federal Government that they are considering a proposed constitutional amendment that would include freedom of expression, and freedom of the media.
On 20 August 2021, Arts Law provided a submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Committee addressing the proposed amendment. We submitted that while we agree in principle with the amendment, the wording needs to be refined to ensure it is an effective protection for the rights of artists and creatives in their cultural and artistic expressions, including for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander artists.
We are grateful for the help of the Hon Alan Robertson SC, who reviewed the draft of this submission.
For more on the Inquiry itself, visit https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Legal_and_Constitutional_Affairs/ConstitutionAlteration.
Arts Law will provide an update once the Senate Committee delivers its final report which is due by 31 December 2021.