Speeches

This section contains a selection of speeches prior to 2010 and more comprehensive additions from the resumption of Parliament in 2010. Full collection of speeches can be found on ParlInfo

Speech to the Senate in support of Freedom of Speech

Freedom of speech, belief and association of freedoms for which our forebears sacrificed—they understood the importance of nurturing these freedoms. These freedoms have allowed us to explore, develop and nuanced ideas, philosophical, political, scientific and religious, amongst others.

Today, our society is in grave danger of losing this rich heritage, together with its attendant benefits. That is why I have taken this, the first opportunity the 46th Parliament has afforded me, to make a plea to defend our freedoms. To fail to do so is to squander the legacy bequeathed to us. Of late we have been witnessing elements, some arrogantly—most others I am sure are naively motivated, but to the same effect—silencing, punishing and intimidating people with whom they disagree.

Our universities, which should be the nursery of free speech, are often not only failing their own rich heritage in this regard but actively destroying it. From students to senior lecturers, there's a growing list of shameful incidents. The contest of ideas and research methodologies should be encouraged, not punished. As Justice Vasta to said in the Ridd case:

"Incredibly, the university has not understood the whole concept of intellectual freedom. In the search for truth, it is an unfortunate consequence that some people may feel denigrated, offended, hurt or upset. It may not always be possible to act collegiately when diametrically opposed views clash in the search for truth."

He also said that intellectual freedom:

"allows academics to express their opinions without fear of reprisals. … And that, at its core, is what higher learning is about."

We see the same corrosion of standards in sport. Rugby Australia's unprecedented and unprincipled dismissal of Israel Folau has become the latest ugly example. Mr Folau, our best rugby player, was sacked for taking to social media with a paraphrased quote from the Holy Bible. Rugby Australia now claims it was the threat of the withdrawal of sponsorship which motivated them. That turns the spotlight onto the corporate bullying, while not excusing Rugby Australia's cowardice. The abuse of corporate sponsorship to manipulate team selection, especially on religious views, is reprehensible. Trying the same corporate ugliness on Izzy's wife, a sportswoman in her right, for supporting him, is reprehensible writ large. In an exercise of Orwellian proportions, these sports stars were targeted for exclusion in the name of inclusion and discriminated against in the name of tolerance. You don't have to agree with Izzy to agree with his right to express his religious views, or his wife's right to back him. Today it's Izzy's religious views and his wife's loyal support. Yesterday it was the Professor Ridd's scientific views. Tomorrow it might be somebody's political view. The next might be someone's environmental view. This is a fight for freedom of speech which impacts us all. The government must, and I am confident will, respond to the expressions of the quiet Australians on 18 May and ensure our freedoms, which were bought with the highest of prices, are not sacrificed and squandered on the altar of political correctness. As Sir Robert Menzies so articulately encapsulated in 'We believe': 'We believe in the great human freedoms: to worship, to think, to speak.'

Freedom is worth defending. Freedom is worth nurturing. Freedom is worth championing. As our national anthem extols, 'Australians all let us rejoice, For we are young and free'. Let's keep it that way.

Opening Statement on Christchurch

OPENING STATEMENT TO A HEARING OF THE SENATE FOREIGN AFFAIRS, DEFENCE AND TRADE COMMITTEE,
CANBERRA

E&OE........................................................................................................................................................................

Continue Reading

Speech to the Senate on the Australian and Israeli relationship

The announcement by the Prime Minister to investigate the possibility of relocating the Australian embassy in Israel to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv is to be applauded. Every sovereign nation has the right to determine the capital and its seat of government. Israel, the only democracy in the Middle East that abides by the rule of law, is slighted by elements of the world community not recognising its designated capital. It would be like countries saying to Australia, 'We don't recognise Canberra—for whatever reason—and, therefore, we will place our embassy in Goulburn.' No slight on Goulburn. I'm sure it's a great city and town in the state of New South Wales—Senator Molan agrees, so I'm glad I have that support in this debate. It is important to recognise that a sovereign nation has the right to determine where its national capital will be. So I'm delighted that there is now a move within the world community to right this wrong. It is a move that has been discussed for a long time, and countries as diverse as Guatemala, Paraguay, the Czech Republic, Romania, Honduras and, indeed, the United States have engaged in this discussion.

Continue Reading

Speech to the Senate in support of Small Business

  Small business is the backbone of the Australian economy. Small business provides the jobs and wealth our local communities rely on. So it's an absolute delight to be part of a government that is seeking to assist small business to do even better within our community. In doing even better, they will employ even more people. So this is about ensuring that the Australian small business sector has the opportunity to flourish and grow, and, in doing so, provide even more job opportunities for the people of Australia.

Continue Reading

Speech on the Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015

The Restoring Territory Rights (Assisted Suicide Legislation) Bill 2015 deserves to be defeated. It deserves to be defeated on a number of grounds. Firstly, the bill displays a sad misunderstanding of our constitutional arrangements. Secondly, it shows a complete disregard of the general basic ethical foundations of our society, where every single life is valued. Thirdly, it shows a disregard for the sensitivities of our Indigenous community, especially in the Northern Territory.

Continue Reading

About Eric

Eric Abetz has been a Liberal Senator for Tasmania since 1994 and has served in a range of Leadership, Ministerial and Shadow Ministerial roles.

Read more

Contact

136 Davey Street
Hobart  TAS  7001

(03) 6224 3707

Senator.Abetz@aph.gov.au

e-newsletter