MARGO: I am so disgusted with the Brandis free speech interview on @Lateline I don’t trust myself to write about it. It brought back memories of the Howard Government’s relentless assaults on free speech, egregiously denied by Brandis last night, and of his nasty record. So @NoFibs will try to drag truth back on the public record with a Brandis archive. We begin with the transcript of his intellectual dismemberment by Emma Alberici on last night’s Lateline.
EMMA ALBERICI, PRESENTER: The Shadow Attorney General George Brandis has tonight delivered a swingeing attack on the Gillard Government for what he calls a war on free speech. In an address to the Sydney Institute, Senator Brandis said the Government’s proposed media reforms were the worst attack on press freedom in Australia in nearly 200 years. He went on to say that under the Labor Government victimhood had become the basis of a new kind of privilege and that showing respect to its special status had become a more important value than the freedom to call that status into question. George Brandis claims that the Coalition has been the only party which has stood steadfastly on the side of freedom. He joined me here in the studio a short time ago. Senator Brandis, welcome to Lateline.
GEORGE BRANDIS, SHADOW ATTORNEY GENERAL: Hello, Emma.
EMMA ALBERICI: You assert in your speech that the Government’s media reforms, which they recently abandoned, represented the most overt interference by an Australian Government with the freedom of the press since 1825. How have you reached that conclusion?
GEORGE BRANDIS: Well, this was the public interest media advocate that Senator Conroy wanted to foist on us, was in fact the first measure, at least in peace time, that had been undertaken in this country which could have had the consequence of a government official telling newspapers and media outlets what they were at liberty to say and what they were not at liberty to say in their media. Now that hasn’t happened before.
EMMA ALBERICI: The legislation didn’t say that.
GEORGE BRANDIS: The public interest media advocate’s determinations could have had that consequence.
EMMA ALBERICI: Do you believe the electronic media in Australia is facing government censorship?
GEORGE BRANDIS: I think that the withdrawal of the media regulation package that Senator Conroy was so wedded to was a great victory for freedom of speech. I’m aware, of course, that there are different issues between newspapers and the electronic media because the electronic media obviously use a public resource in a way that newspapers and magazines don’t. But nevertheless, I think a common philosophical principle strongly in defence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press unites them both.
EMMA ALBERICI: Is there any reason though why broadcast media should be regulated in a way that the press is not?
GEORGE BRANDIS: Well, I’ll – because as I said a moment ago, spectrum is a public resource.
EMMA ALBERICI: But that aside.
GEORGE BRANDIS: Well I…
EMMA ALBERICI: That aside in principle do you think they should be regulated differently?
GEORGE BRANDIS: I don’t think it’s possible to just say – put that aside because that I think is the principle functional difference between the two.
EMMA ALBERICI: Well social media, for instance, is not regulated at all?
GEORGE BRANDIS: That’s right, but it doesn’t use the same public resources as the electronic media do.
EMMA ALBERICI: Is the Internet not a public resource? Read the rest of this entry »