Free Speech Not A Fringe Issue – Poll

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31 January 2017
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New opinion poll research shows that 95% of Australians think free speech is important to them with over 57% saying it is “very important”.

“Much to the surprise of some members of the media and the political class, free speech matters,” said Simon Breheny, Director of Policy at the Institute of Public Affairs.

“When 95% of respondents agree that an issue is important, it is time for our elected representatives to listen rather than trying to tell the public it is a niche or fringe issue”.

The new poll also shows increased support for changing section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act (RDA). 48% of respondents now support removing the words insult and offend from section 18C of the RDA; up three points from the previous Galaxy survey in November, while there has been a 2% decrease in the number of people opposing changes (down from 38% to 36%).

“On top of the incredible overwhelming support for freedom of speech, support is also growing for changes to be made to section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act so that it is no longer unlawful to insult or offend someone.”

The Galaxy poll, commissioned by the Institute of Public Affairs in December, shows that a majority of respondents’ rate freedom of speech as “very important” across every demographic group.

“These figures contain a clear message to our political leaders; no matter whether respondents were female or male, employed or unemployed, parents or not, whether they live in the city or the country or whatever state they reside in, voters believe that freedom of speech is very important.

“And in every state more respondents support changes to 18C than oppose them.”

“It is time for section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act to be repealed,” said Mr Breheny.

Dr Chris Berg, IPA Senior Fellow and Mr Simon Breheny, IPA Director of Policy, will be appearing at today’s Parliamentary Human Rights Committee hearing in Melbourne at 11:35am to discuss why section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act should be repealed.

For media and comment, please contact Simon Breheny, Director of Policy, Institute of Public Affairs, on 0400 967 382, or at [email protected]

For media and comment: Evan Mulholland, IPA Media and Communications Manager, on 0405 140 780, or at [email protected]


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