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Freedom of Speech Lawyers Australia

The ability to express ourselves freely is an ancient and sacred right. The open sharing of diverse ideas is an essential element of a successful dialogue, as well as a successful society.

In Australia, the Constitution incorporates a freedom of political communication, and freedom of speech and express is also protected in various statues as well as in the common law.

Unfortunately, there is currently an attack on free speech on the basis that certain ideas and expressions might be dangerous, and must therefore be suppressed. At Maat’s Method, we believe this is a mistake.

Misinformation laws are, among other things, infantilising. They are predicated on the idea that most people are too stupid to form their own opinions based on a free market of ideas, as a result, it is necessary for an elite, intelligent class to filter the information on their behalf. Anybody who supports this idea is:

  1. Ignorant of history (this has never, in thousands of years of attempts, been effective and never born of genuinely good intent); and
  2. Themselves arrogant enough to think that they must know better than those they disagree with.

Those supportive of such laws need to be seriously questioned as to what specific outcome they believe such laws will achieve, how specifically they define “misinformation”, and what evidence they are relying on to assume such laws will achieve their desired intent.

The recent Misinformation Bill proposed by Government was an absolute dog’s breakfast because the above questions are very difficult to answer without simply admitting (even if implicitly) that you are simply trying to control the flow of information to achieve your own desired outcomes.

How We Can Help You With Freedom Of Speech Laws

Free speech can be a confusing topic under Australian law, and it can get even more complicated when it comes to the workplace and online social media platforms.

Over the past few years, Australians have experienced an unprecedented level of censorship over their speech, particularly in their workplaces and on social media platforms. Many have been disciplined, fired, even arrested for the words they typed, the speeches they’ve made and  the opinions they’ve shared which often resulted in their accounts being deactivated by social media companies and the Police knocking on their door.

There have also been several highly publicised Australian cases arguing for the right to freedom of speech for employees, notably within academia.

Your right to free speech & its limitations

In Australia there is no express Constitutional or legislative protection of free speech or the freedom of expression at the federal level (in contrast to human rights legislation in force in the Queensland, ACT and Victoria). Despite this, the courts have an important role in interpreting legislation consistently with human rights where possible.

What we do have is an implied constitutional freedom in relation to our political communication or political speech, but it’s fairly limited in its scope. Implied freedom of speech means that Australians don’t have free reign to say what they wish, but they do have certain protections. Importantly, the High Court of Australia held that an implied freedom of political communication ‘is an indispensable incident of the system of representative government which the Constitution creates’. 

Your right to freedom of opinion and expression

Australia is a party to seven core international human rights treaties. The right to freedom of opinion and expression is contained in articles 19 and 20 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR).

See also articles 4 and 5 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) , articles 12 and 13 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) and article 21 of the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

The right to freedom of opinion and expression may also be relevant to:

  • the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion in article 18 of the ICCPR
  • the right to peaceful assembly in article 21 of the ICCPR
  • the right to freedom of association in article 22 of the ICCPR
  • the requirement to provide information to persons with disability in accessible formats and technologies in article 21 of the CRPD.

The right to freedom of opinion is the right to hold opinions without interference and cannot be subject to any exception or restriction.

The right to freedom of expression extends to any medium, including written and oral communications, the media, public protest, broadcasting, artistic works and commercial advertising. However, this right is not absolute. It carries with it special responsibilities and may be restricted on several grounds. For example, restrictions could relate to filtering access to certain internet sites, the urging of violence or the classification of artistic material.

Testimonials

“I could not have been more fortunate or more pleased to have Peter Fam take on my case against an ‘establishment bully’. From the outset, Peter’s meticulous “take one careful step at a time” approach, instilled great confidence in me that we had an excellent chance to bring justice to my situation. Peter displayed an amazing ability to explain the nuances of my situation and to sincerely and effectively involve me in the decision along the way. His dedication to humanity, truth and integrity was clear, and undoubtedly had the ‘bully’ on the back foot. Thus, we had a very good outcome. Maat’s Method: Outstanding excellent service!”

Dr Georgina Hale MBBS FRACP PhD

“My experience with Peter Fam was nothing short of special. His approach was unique because he was able to provide a comprehensive understanding of my situation and recommend an action plan. Any lawyer can quote and reference the law, but Peter stood out to me because of his ability to speak in my language and reference the things that mattered to me. His communication was clear and his advice came with no pressure. He understood the importance of different stakeholders and how even a positive legal outcome could have the potential to impact some parties negatively. He had a truly objective approach to my situation and had the grounded energy i needed to redirect my attention to where it was needed most. More than anything, Peter restored my hope in humanity because at a time when i had lost hope in people, he was there to show me that there are still good, honest truthful people in the world that value doing whats right more than doing whats profitable. Thank you Peter”

Ali Mahfouz

“Peter was extremely helpful during a tricky court case and time. He supported me through navigating and settling with an incredible outcome. When dealing with the case, Peter was extremely professional but also sensitive to my emotions and feelings. Peter was very helpful in understanding specific nuances of the law to support my case. Through our interactions and the way he approached the situation, showed his integrity and authentic desire to support people. His work went beyond and above and I highly recommended his services. “

Carli

“My experience with Peter at Maat`s Method was a pleasant and positive one. Peter was caring, understanding and of a generous spirit…fulfilling a much needed service…administered with integrity…”

Carolyn Crowe

“Peter at Maat’s Method took on my human rights case against a large government agency and achieved a favorable outcome. Many other lawyers said it couldn’t be done however Peter’s dedication and effort made it happen. Peter is a great listener, honest, responsive and effective. I am exceptionally grateful that he was my lawyer.”

William Cartwright

“Peter helped me in a time of need. He was empathetic, supportive and professional from the first time we connected.

I contacted a number of lawyers who were more worried about payment, didn’t listen to my concerns and were cold and transactional. Peter felt like a friend from the start.

Peter very quickly understood my issue and provided logical advice and direction. He took the weight of the issue off my shoulders and became my voice and advocate – I felt like I could finally breathe in an extremely stressful situation.

Peter helped me achieve justice and I recommend him to everyone who needs legal advice. With Peter you get someone dedicated to your cause, someone who is truly independent and who will fearlessly stand up for justice and truth, no matter how big the opponent may be.

Thank you Peter.”

Nicole Turnbull - Director at Neon Shed

“I had the greatest pleasure and experience having such a wonderful and extremely knowledgeable Human rights lawyer Peter Fam assist me with a very difficult and complex situation.

Peter’s passion to promote awareness knowledge and discussion on matters about Human Rights is extraordinary.

He is compassionate considerate and was very supportive towards my case. He always found the time to communicate about my concerns and I found him extremely helpful,  especially when I had nowhere to turn.

I highly recommend Peter Fam as a Human Rights lawyer, his dedication and resilience are impeccable.”

Georgia Kotsias