November 08, 2005

ISSUE | Sedition Laws

The Federal Government's recently proposed Anti-Terrorism Bill 'Sedition Clause' has the potential to adversely affect artists, arts workers and writers across Australia. Specifically, these laws could limit arts practitioners' freedom of expression, and public discussion should occur to examine all potential impacts. There have been a raft of articles about this issue, which has seen artists, film makers, writers and journalists instigating lobbying efforts.

As Tamara Winikoff, Executive Director of the arts advocacy body NAVA explains, "We are concerned that the new sedition laws inhibit artists' entitlement to exercise their human right to represent, discuss and critique ideas, through their artwork or other forms of public or private expression ... As with all Australian citizens, they should remain free to continue to challenge current orthodoxies - artistic or political."

"The Bill makes it an offence punishable by 7 years imprisonment if a person urges another to assist 'by any means whatever' an organisation or country engaged in armed hostilities against the Australia Defence Force," explains Simeon Beckett, President of Australian Lawyers for Human Rights. "This then would make artists and galleries which show their work vulnerable to being prosecuted for influencing the actions of others, whether this was intended or not."

Architects for Peace have initiated a petition

The Age reports that the sedition offences in the Government's sweeping anti-terrorism bill will be reviewed in the new year following sustained criticism that they could hit the media and even artistic expression.

The ABC interviews Robert Connolly, Chris Connolly, David Marr and David Mark about the impact of the laws.

Freedom of Expression Weblog