Section 18C, has reached an impasse where it is politically too frightening for Party leaders to lead.
Even though in November last year Bernard Gaynor’s case (against the army’s attempt to silence him) The Federal Court cited with approval that the Constitution ensured free speech in political discourse.
Even though in March this year the Australian Law Reform Commission invited submissions with respect to a suggested review of the hurt feelings test and whether s18C is unlawful because it may not comply with the Constitution and referred to the same legal authorities in Gaynor’s case.
Even though Andrew Bolt was silenced for raising genuine political points about equitable sharing of funds across the gamut of aboriginal Australia and Bill Leak’s cartoon raised genuine political issues about drunken parenting Queensland University students are being persecuted for trivia.
A sincere legal question is whether the law has gone too far against the constitutional protection of free speech in political discourse and the established firm element of insult and offence that this entails.
Even with all of that the Liberal Party feels it is too politically weak to succeed or attempt to amend the hurt feelings test.
It is reasonably common for the “Crown” to agree that some legal points are in the public interest to have determined. The constitutional validity of aspects of Section 18C has become one of them?
No case has yet been appealed on this point and it appears the Law Reform Commissions proposal has not been advanced.
The Federal Attorney General could indemnify Bill Leak for costs and agree to take the matter to the High Court on appeal.
Such a course of action would remove s18C from politics and allow our “Australian Balance of Powers” to go to work without risking Mr.Leaks superannuation and probably let the Queensland Students off the hook as well.