Believe it or not, John HoWARd’s proposed terrorism law is not terribly novel regarding the specification of what speech can be deemed sedition. Since 1914, it has been a crime punishable by up to three years imprisonment to engage in seditious enterprises:
CRIMES ACT 1914 – SECT 24C
Seditious enterprises – A person who engages in a seditious enterprise with the intention of causing violence, or creating public disorder or a public disturbance, is guilty of an indictable offence punishable on conviction by imprisonment for not longer than 3 years.
draft daft terrorism laws would repeal sections 24A-F of the Crimes Act 1914 and replace them with a new, but similar definition of seditious intention:
seditious intention means an intention to effect any of the
- (a) to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt;
- (b) to urge disaffection against the following:
- (i) the Constitution;
- (ii) the Government of the Commonwealth;
- (iii) either House of the Parliament;
- (c) to urge another person to attempt, otherwise than by lawful means, to procure a change to any matter established by law in the Commonwealth;
- (d) to promote feelings of ill-will or hostility between different groups so as to threaten the peace, order and good government of the Commonwealth.
However, as usual, the devil is in the detail. Gone from the 1914 Crimes Act is the specification that seditious enterprises must be committed in the course of encitement of others to overthrow the government by force in order to be an indictable offence. It doesn’t appear that you must necessarily have the intention of overthrowing of the government by force under HoWARd’s proposals. All you have to do to be guilty of seditious intention is ‘urge disaffection against the Government.’
George Orwell had a name for HoWARd style sedition: thoughtcrime.
You feeling safer yet?
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