I write in response to Roslyn Phillips’s article, “When truth is no defence” (News Weekly, February 3, 2007).
It’s worth pointing out that, even in existing defamation laws, truth is not always a defence.
With regard to the Equal Opportunity (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill (the “EO Bill”) currently before the South Australian Parliament, much of the hyperbole surrounding the debate could have been avoided had the State Government chosen to circulate a draft for comment.
Circulation of proposed SA religious vilification laws led to plans being shelved in 2003 after a great deal of church and community dissent, spearheaded by the National Civic Council.
But for now we must endure both a troubling bill and well-meaning but unhelpful material in reply. My favourite so far is probably a leaflet entitled “A ban on the Bible?”, complete with a gagged figure in a suit.
Current indications are that the EO Bill will be blocked in the upper house. But with the numbers apparently standing at 11 to 10, we cannot bank on this. Nor can we bank on the State Government not returning at a later date with a new bill, redrafted to satisfy the concerns of other MPs.
Either way, the NCC will continue to work constructively to achieve the best possible outcome.
SA State President,
National Civic Council.