Defender of free speech appointed to HRC

Attorney-General George Brandis has appointed Tim Wilson, a policy director of the Institute of Public Affairs, to the Human Rights Commission with the brief to fight for freedom of speech.

Senator Brandis said Mr Wilson was a strong advocate of traditional, liberal rights, such as the freedom of expression and freedom of the press.

“I think he is the person with the policy background and the intellectual grunt of the public reputation to be just the person to be the freedom commissioner,” Senator Brandis said.

Mr Wilson believes all rights should be defended, but said the human right most neglected is free speech.

“Increasingly free speech has been pushed aside in favour of laws and regulations designed to stop people being offensive to each other, a steadily expanding corpus of anti-discrimination and defamation law, and the growing momentum towards restrictions on speech online,” Mr Wilson wrote in an opinion piece for The Australian.

“Some of these new threats have come from politicians, responding to the latest moral panic. Others are the result of a judiciary incrementally lowering the bar on what constitutes legitimate speech,” he wrote.

“But too often these threats have come from the very human rights activists and organisations that ought to be defending free expression.”

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