Kelly Hazell Quill lawyers in politics: Gillard’s wicked law would put her boyfriend in the dock

From Herald-Sun (Andrew Bolt Blog), January 31 2013:

The tape doesn’t lie. When Tim Mathieson told his harmless joke, most people in his audience laughed.

Yet what the Prime Minister’s partner and his audience thought funny, the Prime Minister plans to make illegal.

That is how sinister Julia Gillard’s proposed Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination bill truly is.  That should wipe the smile not just from Mathieson’s face, but yours.

No one’s free speech is safe. No one’s jokes are, either.

No, Mathieson’s joke was not particularly good, but it was told without malice and in a good cause.

Speaking at The Lodge at a function for the Prime Minister’s XI cricket match , he’d urged the men in the room to get checked out for prostate cancer.
“The digital examination is the only true way to get a correct reading on your prostate, so make sure you go and do that, and perhaps look for a small, Asian, female doctor is probably the best way,” he said.

The “small, Asian female” reference is curious and, to the very sensitive, might signify a certain patronising or even racist attitude.

Gillard herself criticised Mathieson, saying he “could have picked his words a lot better”, and made him say sorry for a joke he called “offendable”.

Mind you, she had no choice but to shop her own boyfriend after being so deliberately and cynically hypersensitive to sexism – especially to the purely imagined sexism of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

“Misogyny,” she shrieked at Abbott last year for no particular reason other than political advantage.

And when Abbott chanced mid-tirade to check his watch, Gillard seized on that, too:  “Now looking at his watch because, apparently, a woman has spoken for too long.”

Can you imagine what Gillard would have said if Abbott, not Mathieson, had joked of wanting a “small, Asian, female doctor” to probe his backside?

We would have heard the trumped-up outrage 24-7 for a month.

But since it was just her Tim, Gillard satisfied herself with sniffing his joke was in “poor taste”.

And so it might have stopped, as just an example of Gillard’s hypocrisy.

But Gillard has not simply declared her boyfriend’s joke to be bad taste.

Her proposed new laws to regulate speech would make that joke unlawful.

The exposure draft of Gillard’s planned Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination bill declares it would be illegal to do things in “areas of public life” which “offends” or “insults” others over such “protected attributes” as “gender identity”, “sex”, “race”, “political opinion”, “religion” or even “social origin”.

What’s more, if someone takes offence, the onus switches to defendants to prove their innocence.

Since Mathieson’s joke made a crack at “Asian female” doctors, he’d already be in strife on two counts – sex and race.

And two Asian callers to my 2GB program on Monday said they were indeed offended.

That would be about enough to cook Mathieson’s goose, says defamation lawyer Justin Quill, of Kelly Hazell Quill.

“There can’t be much doubt at all that what he said would be a breach of the offence section.

“Now it might be that he could together some argument that he’s protected by a defence but I think he’s probably going to struggle on that front.”

Many Australians will find it hard to believe that their government could propose laws so wickedly extreme as to make even Mathieson’s joke illegal.  Or their own.

But, incredibly, this vindictive and authoritarian Government has done just that – which is why former High Court judge Ian Callinan is so alarmed that he’s sounding like a revolutionary.

“Every Australian with an ideal for democracy – and I hope that means most Australians – should do everything they lawfully can to oppose the introduction of this outrageous law,” Callinan urges.

We should thank poor Tim. Never in living memory has the freedom of Australians to speak freely – whether on politics, social issues or Asian doctors – been so threatened, and it took Mathieson’s joke to show us the danger.

The questions for Gillard are now these:

Are lawyers right when they say the Prime Minister’s proposed laws could make even her boyfriend’s joke unlawful?

Does she agree that this show her planned laws against our free speech are dangerously and obscenely broad, and must be scrapped?

Or does she seriously want the First Bloke put in the dock, and thousands of equally innocent Australians with him?