The Victorian Parliament's Legal and Social Issues Committee has published its report on the Inquiry into Extremism in Victoria. It's available here: https://lnkd.in/gKxym4Ub
I'm pleased to say that Liberty Victoria's submission has been quoted throughout the report. Whilst acknowledging that the threat of far-right extremism is real, the Committee makes the important finding that "responses to extremism need to avoid measures that curtail civil liberties in a disproportionate manner" (finding 15). Liberty Victoria has submitted that great care needs to be taken before expanding executive power, surveillance and censorship.
The Committee quotes from our submission (available here: https://lnkd.in/daQVhT4B):
"Extremism is a symptom that something in society is not right. It is not the illness itself. Finding ways to silence rightwing extremism, or indeed any other form of extremism, will not cure the problem, it will mask it until a new form of extremism arises" (p 2).
And our evidence before the Inquiry:
"What we need to do, in Liberty Victoria’s view, is address the drivers as to why some people are attracted to extremist ideology in the first place, and that involves addressing issues of social isolation, economic insecurity and matters that are preyed upon by those who want to expand their ranks in terms of extremist groups, including farright extremism. We need to repair and build faith in institutions, government and the media so that people cannot be so easily preyed upon by these actors who are acting with what would appear to be malevolent intent" (p 17).
We are also pleased to see the endorsement of the Christchurch Call, which strikes an important balance between freedom of expression and better regulation of extremist material online:
"Whilst there is a call for there to be better regulation in relation to extremist material online, there is also a very clear recognition in that document of the need to preserve freedom of expression and of the potential of the internet to be an incredibly helpful, beneficial resource in terms of education and awareness raising. So that just, in our view, shows the delicate balance that must be struck..." (p 99).
At Liberty Victoria we're very lucky to have the support of dedicated volunteers to assist with our written submissions, and we're thankful to them and to the Committee for giving us the opportunity to participate in this important Inquiry.
President, Liberty Victoria.