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Sense over sedition: artist's concern vindicated by bi-partisan report.



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PETER GARRETT MP

Member for Kingsford Smith

Shadow Parliamentary Secretary for Reconciliation and the Arts

MEDIA RELEASE

17 November 2005

Sense over Sedition:

Artist’s concern vindicated by bi-partisan report

The Labor spokesman for the Arts, Peter Garrett said today. “Four weeks ago I sought legal opinion on the likely impact on freedom of expression of the sedition clauses in the new Anti-Terror Bill 2005. That opinion found the clauses could lead to artist’s being prosecuted for their free expression.

When I first raised this serious issue the Prime Minister dismissed it outright. Since then, widespread legal, media and Arts community concerns about the proposed sedition laws increased greatly. Labor has always opposed the expansion of sedition clauses in the legislation.

The Prime Minister and the Attorney General must now accept the Senate committee’s bi-partisan recommendation to scrap Schedule 7 on sedition. This is the only action open to the Government, given 5.167 “the committee received an overwhelming amount of evidence in relation to the sedition provisions … with the exception of the evidence from the Department and the AFP this evidence indicated strong opposition to the sedition offences from all sectors of the community.”

The broad Arts community has been united in its opposition to new sedition laws. The overwhelming legal opinion is, and always has been, that these laws are detrimental to artistic freedom and could curtail media and political expression.”

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Contact: Joe Hay: 0424 477 985