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Hate speech reforms need major consultation, Law Society says

A review by a former chief justice into hate speech and incitement laws should consider the expert opinion of a range of legal professionals, the NSW Law Society said.

user iconNaomi Neilson 23 January 2024 Big Law
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The former chief justice and current chairman of the NSW Law Reform Commission, Tom Bathurst AC KC, will lead the Minns government’s review of the objectives and value of hate speech laws under the NSW Crimes Act.

While the current section 93Z makes it an offence to publicly threaten or incite violence on the grounds of race or religious belief, there have been concerns about its effectiveness.

Premier Chris Minns told media the review “will be considered and thorough and help provide the community with confidence that our laws are operating effectively”.


“There is no place for hate speech or incitement to violence. We live in a multicultural society, and it is vital that we have laws that protect people who come from communities all around the world and call NSW home,” he said.

Brett McGrath, president of the NSW Law Society, welcomed Mr Bathurst’s review and noted the “flow-on effects” from international conflicts have created a “heated and contentious environment for public discourse”.

“Threats and incitement of violence, including those which are racially motivated or directed to adherents of certain religions, are entirely unacceptable,” Mr McGrath said.

Mr McGrath urged Mr Bathurst and the Minns government to consult with legal and community experts, including Law Society members with “long experience in this area”.

He added the Law Society has expressed the view on a number of occasions “that the piecemeal nature of anti-discrimination and anti-vilification reform over many decades has resulted in inadequate protections”.

“Changes to the criminal justice system passed without adequate scrutiny may carry significant unintended consequences that undermine their objectives, including public safety and confidence in the rule of law,” he said.