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Panellists: Mitch Fifield, Minister for Communications; Catherine King, Shadow Health Minister; Corinne Grant, Comedian & Writer; Brendan O'Neill, Editor, spiked magazine; and Erin Watson-Lynn, Academic and entrepreneur.
RACE & 18C
ANNABETH SIMPSON asked: Brendan O’ Neill: You wrote that you want section 18C torn up because you “trust Australians to use their unshackled reason to separate the good ideas from the wicked ones”. Growing up as a person of colour in Australia, I know that racial abuse is not an uncommon experience. In fact, despite being a respected pharmacist in his community for 16 years, my father is racially vilified on a regular basis.
Do you think the removal or changes to 18C that may give people more social license to racially discriminate is appropriate?
BRADLEY HARVEY asked: This week, our Prime Minister and Treasurer have essentially said that they’re too busy to address concerns about the 18C law and the financial costs and reputational damage being incurred by three university students in Queensland. If free speech has become such a low priority for the Liberal Party, is it time for libertarian and conservative minded voters to find a new party to represent their views?
KATELYN DUNN asked: Recently news broke of an online pornography ring targeting young women and girls from 74 Australian high schools. The ring trades sexually explicit images, all shared without consent, and some depicting unwitting victims as young as 14. Users of the website encourage each other to “go get em boys”, and also share the personal and private details of how to find these girls. Despite this, a statement from Queensland Police placed responsibility squarely at the feet of the underage victims and their parents, and claimed that initial investigations found that there were no clear acts of child exploitation.
My question is to the panel - in an era of revenge porn and online sharing, do you believe it’s time that increased protections be put in place to better protect women and girls from this kind of online predatory behaviour?
NZ LAWS “HARMFUL COMMUNICATIONS”
SARAH CARTER asked: Last year, the New Zealand Government passed the Harmful Digital Communications Act, making it an offence to ‘send messages and post material online that deliberately causes serious emotional distress’. Will the Government of Australia afford Australian women the same protection by introducing similar legislation?
NAURU: WHOSE RESPONSIBILITY?
TRACEY DONEHUE asked: I was a teacher at the Nauru Regional Processing Centre for 15 months until November 2015. Incident reports I wrote recounting events I witnessed are amongst the leaked Nauru files. I witnessed death threats made to my students by local guards; I witnessed a large guard lift and throw a student to the ground and a metal rail; I witnessed my students endure daily verbal abuse; I witnessed the appalling treatment of rape victims; I witnessed countless injuries from assaults in the community… the government has again attempted to absolve itself of responsibility, claiming that the well-being and safety of those on Nauru is a matter for the Nauruan Government …What do think is the responsibility that Australia… that the Australian Government has for the refugees and asylum seekers on Nauru?
HENRY VERHOEVEN asked: In a recent newspaper article, the former premier Jeff Kennett stated that the “ABC’s bias that was offensive and unacceptable” in respect of its Four Corner’s report on juvenile detention in the Northern Territory. His lengthy article indicated that, amongst other things, the ‘mattress incident’ happened in 2010 (during the term of the ALP government) and that the old Don Dale Juvenile Detention Centre was closed in 2014. Mr Kennett also asked “had the ABC reported the situation accurately, would we be having a Royal Commission”? Is he right?
TV FOR THE BLIND
WAYNE HAWKINS asked: My question is for Minister Fifield, Minister my name is Wayne and I’m blind and I’ve very much enjoyed television while we had the government funded audio description trials running but now that those trials have ended I’m no longer able to enjoy television with my partner.
We keep hearing that Australia is to be a nation of innovators yet Australia is the only English speaking country in the OECD with no audio described television for the hundreds of thousands of Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
The broadcast industry claims that it’s too expensive to provide audio description on television yet in the May budget you gave the industry a 25 per cent rebate on their license fees, that amounts to about a $50 million a year saving for the industry.
Wouldn’t it have been in the national interest if you had required the industry to use some of those savings to provide audio description on television for Australians who are blind or vision impaired.
CAITLIN CLARK asked: This week Malcolm Turnbull has postponed the same sex marriage plebiscite to early next year. We already know that the majority of Australians support marriage equality. Do you think a costly plebiscite is needed when our elected representatives could just represent us?
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