The Australian Law Reform Commission has tabled its final report in its review of Australia's sedition laws. Fighting Words: A Review of Sedition Laws in Australia [long] makes a number of recommendations, chief of which is removing the "red-rag" term of sedition. While the offences of inciting political or inter-group violence will be retained, the law will be tightened so that urging violence must be intentional, and to require that "the person must intend that the force or violence urged will occur". This is a significant change, and stands in stark contrast to current New Zealand law, which criminalises speech which merely
incite[s], procure[s], or encourage[s] violence, lawlessness, or disorder
a far lower standard which has led to numerous atrocities against freedom of speech in this country.
The ALRC also recommends strengthening the "good faith" defence to carve out greater protection for journalists, artists, and labour unions, all of whom have expressed concern about being targeted by the law as written. It further recommends amending the law criminalising "assisting the enemy" to make it clear that such "assistance" must be material, rather than simply rhetorical. And it makes clear that while the government should claim extraterritorial jurisdiction over such crimes, they should only apply to Australian residents or citizens, ending the nonsense that someone who was not Australian and had never set foot in the country could be found guilty of "treason" against Australia.
Overall, these are welcome changes, which significantly improve the law. I am still concerned that the bar for "inciting political violence" is lower than that for other forms of incitement, but it is still far better than what is currently on the books.