While the debate on free speech has largely focused on the "rights" of racists and bigots, federal and state governments have been quietly passing new laws that strip citizens of the freedom of speech that is essential to democratic deliberation.
Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act — Australia’s federal hate speech law — has tended to dominate public debate about free speech for the past few years. This has meant other important laws that restrict free speech in broad ways are being overlooked.
While the 18C debate has raged, important new restrictions on freedom of speech have been introduced in Australia. These have flown much further under the radar. These restrictions should concern us, because they have a wide-ranging impact on the freedom of speech that is essential to democratic deliberation.