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Australia AG considering sedition laws revision

[JURIST] Australian Attorney-General Philip Ruddock [official website] said Tuesday that he is willing to revise [ABC World Today transcript] Australia's new sedition laws [summary], particularly the use of the word "sedition," after the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) [official website] released a discussion paper [text] Monday arguing that "sedition" implies a threat to free speech [press release; ALRC sedition materials]. He indicated, however, that he will not act on the ALRC's recommendation until it submits a final report.

The ALRC, the independent federal statutory agency charged with conducting official inquiries into areas for possible legal reform, rejected an argument put forth by Australia's three major news organizations that the sedition laws dealing with the incitement of terrorism are excessive and should not be applied to major media outlets [JURIST report]. The ALRC nonetheless suggested changing the term "sedition" to "offenses against political liberty and public order," while also recommending 24 other changes to clearly state that the sedition laws only target people seeking to overthrow the government through violence, and not members of the arts community using political satire. Australia's sedition laws were enacted late last year as part of sweeping anti-terrorism legislation [JURIST report]. The Australian has more.

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Paper Chase is JURIST's real-time legal news service, powered by a team of 30 law student reporters and editors led by law professor Bernard Hibbitts at the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. As an educational service, Paper Chase is dedicated to presenting important legal news and materials rapidly, objectively and intelligibly in an accessible format.

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