“Unlike the U.S., Australia doesn’t have any entrenched protection of free speech,” said University of Technology Sydney Law Professor Geoffrey Holland to members of the faculty and staff on Widener Law’s Delaware campus. A participant in Widener Law’s summer program in Sydney
since it moved to UTS in 2001, Professor Holland spoke about freedom of speech laws in Australia as part of a faculty development event on Monday, April 27th.
Noting that there is no explicit protection for free speech in Australia in part because there is no bill of rights, Professor Holland emphasized that Australian free speech law relies on an implied protection in the Constitution. “It is unlikely,” he said, “that we will see any expansion or modification of the implied protection.”
Indicating that case law extended constitutional protection to political speech in particular, he joked, “Defamation is certainly alive and well in Australia.”
Throughout the presentation, Professor Holland answered questions from curious faculty members. Professor Hodas asked whether or not the truth of a statement could be considered a proper defense if one was sued for revealing something about another person, to which Professor Holland responded, “Truth could only be used as a defense if it could be proven that the it was in the public’s interest to know the information.”
Professor Holland answered a number of other questions on the subject of free speech and touched on Australia’s common law tradition, sedition laws, censorship, and ongoing though unlikely to succeed anytime soon efforts to write a bill of rights.