Tuesday, 2 February 2010

"Freedom of speech" in South Australia

I was going to write about something completely different but this morning's "Advertiser" (the South Australian state newspaper) has a front page story which needs airing. Put simply there has been a law passed which makes it an offence to comment on elections in South Australia for the 25 days prior to the election unless the writer puts up their real name and their postcode. In other words the government has to be able to find you - and so does everyone else. THIS APPLIES TO INTERNET BLOGS as well as things like LETTERS TO THE EDITOR. There are some other issues as well but that is the one that matters here.
Regular readers of this blog will be aware that I have already had two government 'minders' on my doorstep informing me that I had to cease writing letters critical of our Beloved State Leader. I was easy to find. There was a surname and a suburb in the newspaper - a quick look in the electoral roll will do the rest. It is part of the deal if you write letters to the editor of the Advertiser. You also run the risk of being criticised, defamed, held up in the aisles of supermarkets, accosted by complete strangers in the streets and on the train. I will wear that. I tell people, "I do not always agree with myself. I write letters to make people think." I am still puzzled by the appearance of the minders. My letters are not rants. I try to keep them balanced. I also criticise the Opposition and anything else that I feel needs to be thought about. I have also been known to offer support for a variety of causes and query the unthinking support for others.
My blog though is different territory. For reasons of personal safety and the safety of my elderly father I choose not to use my full name on this blog. "Cat" is adequate. Some of you know who I am and a casual reader has no need to know. If the Beloved State Leader wishes to know then he can leave me a personal message in the comments and I will inform him. I doubt he knows my blog exists. It is not overtly political. I do not hide behind anonymity to make defamatory remarks.
I am also required by law to present myself at the ballot box (although not, as most people believe, to mark the ballot papers). If I am required to do that then I should be free to comment on the election provided that I do not bring "hatred, ridicule or contempt" upon anyone. I may yet make some comments about the election. I will not post my real name or my address on this blog site. If the Beloved State Leader wishes to haul me into court he can do so. I will be happy to see him there.


Tony said...

As an Englishman, I was extremely bemused to learn that, having received my citizenship, I am now to be forced to vote (one of several things that amaze me about Australia, along with paying for ambulances,people walking around barefoot in supermarkets and an absolutely terrible postal service. Don't be fooled people - it's not England with more sunshine!).

I will be drawing a big donkey on my ballot paper - and (of course) only Australians know what I mean by that...

catdownunder said...

You do not actually have to vote Tony - the requirement is to attend the ballot box, accept the papers and place them in the correct box or boxes - but I love the idea of drawing a donkey!

Anonymous said...

You are a braver cat than I ...... I have no desire to be in the same room as our beloved state leader because I have a strong desire to wipe that smug smile away. Even if I totally agree with what he is smiling about on the rare occasion.

I don't mind having to vote ..... it makes us all think about who governs us at least once of each term of office, either on voting day or the day we pay the fine! I suspect I my thought may wander to donkeys at the polling booth ..... I should start improving my drawing skills!

Judy B

Is my word verification is trying to tell me something ..... warize ...... ???

Rachel Fenton said...

Oh flipping heck - it just gets dafter and dafter!

Next they'll be tattooing us all at birth and inserting chips!

catdownunder said...

I am not feeling at all brave Judy but I am feeling furious.
Rachel, the letters page tomorrow should be very interesting!

Donna Hosie said...

Big Brother is alive and well.

catdownunder said...

But I am feeling murderous Donna!

Adelaide Dupont said...

One of my activist compeers says oppression is something like the Hydra: cut one head and another will arise.