Free speech debated at Anti-One Nation rally

Issue 

Free speech debated at Anti-One Nation rally

By Martin Iltis

CANBERRA — Around 400 people attended a rally outside Woden Library on August 4 to protest against a One Nation branch meeting. The rally, organised by the Campaign Against Racism, vastly outnumbered the 40 people attending the meeting.

The rally included a debate on the "open microphone" as to whether One Nation should have the right of free speech.

A motion to condemn the ACT Liberal government for allowing One Nation the use of a government building was not debated until the end of the rally because a section of the crowd went to another part of the Woden Library building.

Speakers, predominantly from the International Socialist Organisation, stated that the ACT government should not have allowed One Nation a government-owned venue to meet. They stated that One Nation should not be given free speech, and if possible their meetings should be closed down.

Other speakers took up this argument, pointing out that the racist policies of One Nation, as well as the racist policies of the Liberal government, can be defeated only through political argument and by building the biggest possible movement against racism.

According to Democratic Socialist spokesperson Sue Bull, advocating censorship is extremely dangerous because the state has used censorship against the left and progressive movements and individuals.

"If we advocate forcibly stopping One Nation meetings, then we are giving those people the opportunity to claim that their rights are being denied. Rallies like this, where we vastly outnumber Hanson supporters, where we put the political arguments and are part of building a huge movement against racism, are how we will win", Bull concluded.