Submission to the race hate speech inquiry - Terri Butler MP, Labor for Griffith

Submission to the race hate speech inquiry

I've made a submission in relation to the government's review of race hate speech laws.

Dear colleagues
Thank you for the opportunity to make this submission.
Race hate speech laws
I do not support any watering down of Australia's race hate speech laws.
Community cohesion is deeply important in our modern multicultural nation. The signalling effect of a dilution of the potency of our country's hate speech laws would be regrettable.
A person's right to free speech does not trump others' rights. There are a range of laws that impose fetters on the right to free speech. Race hate speech laws are but one example. In considering these laws the government should think twice before expanding people's right to bigotry and allowing that to trump others' rights to economic, social and cultural participation, and freedom from vilification.
Access to justice 
I support greater access to justice.
Human rights matters that reach the courts, like other litigious matters, can be very expensive for the parties. The broader problem of a lack of access to justice in this country is an issue of which the government is aware, and is an issue about which the Productivity Commission has reported.
The inquiry may also wish to consider the effect that the government's cuts to community legal services could have on parties to human rights matters.
Procedural issues
For human rights matters, as for others, access to justice can be improved, and costs reduced, by ensuring parties can, at early stages, seek to bring to a swift end matters without reasonable prospects of success, and trivial matters.
I am concerned by delays in our courts, especially in the Federal Circuit Court. My concern extends not only human rights matters, but also to other general federal law matters (such as bankruptcy, industrial, migration and others), and family law matters. 
The court's most recent annual report shows that in 2015-16 there were 84,920 family law filings in the court. There were 8649 general federal law filings, of which 75 were human rights matters. The figures for the previous year had been comparable.
The court has, for some time, been struggling under the weight of its workload. That is still the case. The most recent annual report observes:
In 2015–16, 70 per cent of all final order applications (family law) were completed within 12 months
So if there is to be any measures adopted so that human rights matters can be brought to an end more swiftly, such measures should include additional resourcing, and not divert judicial or other resources away from other parts of the court's workload. 
Thank you for the opportunity to make this submission.
Yours faithfully 

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