Presented by Professor Katharine Gelber  

Freedom of speech seems to be very prominent in current public debate, covering everything from whether bakers should be allowed to refuse to sell wedding cakes to gay couples, to serving in the military, to deplatforming speakers, to debates on university campuses. In this presentation, I will provide a framework within which to understand and engage with these key issues. First, I will summary the key similarities and differences between these debates in Australia and the United States, and then I will outline some of the dilemmas and misunderstandings in the Australian debate, to enable people to navigate these debates more confidently.

Katharine Gelber is Professor of Politics and Public Policy at the University of Queensland, a Fellow of the Academy of Social Sciences Australia, and a former Australian Research Council Future Fellow (2012-2015). Her expertise is in freedom of speech and speech regulation, with research projects into the operation of hate speech laws, and the effects of counter-terrorism policies on freedom of speech. She published Free Speech After 9/11 (Oxford Uni Press, 2016) and recently completed, with Luke McNamara, a project assessing the impact of hate speech laws on public discourse in Australia. In 2014 they were awarded the Mayer journal article prize by the Australian Political Studies Association for the best article in the Australian Journal of Political Science, an article on the Australian hate speech case known as the ‘Bolt case’. In 2011 she published Speech Matters: How to Get Free Speech Right (University of Queensland Press) which was a finalist in the Australian Human Rights Awards 2011 (Literature Non-Fiction category). In 2011 she was awarded the PEN Keneally award for contributions to freedom of expression. She has recently published articles in journals including Law and Society Review, Political Studies, Contemporary Political Theory, Melbourne University Law Review, Review of International Studies, and the Australian Journal of Human Rights. She is a past President of the Australian Political Studies Association, and Chair of the Local Committee for the 2018 World Congress of the International Political Science Association, Brisbane.

Photo: Thomas Hawke. Flickr Creative Commons

Understanding current debates in freedom of speech

Tue 12 Feb 2019 6:00pm7:30pm


Holding Redlich Lawyers, Level 1, 300 Queen Street, Brisbane CBD, Queensland 4000