Should National Security Ever Override Free Speech?

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Should national security ever override free speech? The expectations of the citizens in regard to the ‘social contract’ is diverging from the State’s interpretation, and I will demonstrate how this diminishes the democratic process in regard to freedom of speech, and freedom of the press in particular. “[…] government is a pretty blunt instrument, and without the constant attention of highly qualified people with the right metrics, it will fall into not doing things very well.” (Gates, 2014) Freedom of speech in Australia is an implied right under the Australian Constitution. There is no express right stated, but this right is interpreted as being extended to the citizenry and the press (Simpson, 2005). National Security has no…show more content…
Both major arms of Australian Politics have passed laws that make, for example, protection of fundamental rights more difficult and progressively further out of reach of the citizenry. The 2003 amendments to the ASIO Act (ASIO, 2013) “curb freedom of speech and remove ASIO’s activities from the domain of public scrutiny”, and “distort Australian politics by enabling the government to control and manipulate ‘security information’” (McCulloch, 2005). The authors cite numerous scholarly articles accusing the government of acting opportunistically to exploit post-9/11 anxieties to pass “repressive legislation” and assert that “every public body including security services should be subject to public comment and criticism”. This represents a “continuing shift in the relative distribution of power between state and subject […] that signals a move to more repressive or authoritarian forms of rule”. Supporting these views, the Professor of Politics and Public Policy at University of Queensland states that free speech “does the work of democratic governance […] to hold their representatives accountable, and to decide which policies to accept or reject” (Gelber, 2016), and by inference the lack of free speech does the opposite. Changes to laws pertaining to security of Australia, which have been extended to cover the Border Force Act (Immigration, 2015), impose repressive limitations on the reporting of events at Manus Island Detention Centre,

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