No free speech for racists, says Robert McClelland
FREEDOM of speech only goes so far and it does not stretch to racism, Attorney-General Robert McClelland says.
In a speech to a cyber-racism summit in Sydney, Mr McClelland said the Government was tackling the difficult world of cyber bullying and online protection of children.
"It may well be appropriate to set some limitation to public expression of hateful material," Mr McClelland said.
He said cyber-racism was a growing area of concern for the Human Rights Commission. Eighteen per cent of racism complaints handed to the Commission in 2008-09 were about racist internet material, up from nine per cent in the previous year.
He said the rise meant the Government would be asking the Commission to do further work on the issue.
"One of the fundamental principles of a democratic society like Australia is freedom of expression," Mr McClelland said.
"Freedom of expression is a human right that is enjoyed by all Australians and must be protected.
"However, a right to freedom of expression should not derogate from the rights of people to be treated with equality, dignity and respect."
The speech was one of Mr McClelland's last formal duties before travelling to Washington DC to meet with attorneys-general from Canada, Britain, New Zealand and the US. The quintet will be focused on issues of national security and terrorism but will also touch on increasing legal cooperation.
Mr McClelland has also been promised classified briefings from the Obama administration on intelligence and cyber security.