A newly proposed legal policy from the council opens door to serious questions.
A newly proposed legal policy from the council opens door to serious questions. File

OPINION: Speech shouldn't cost the public

ENSHRINED in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, freedom of speech is important and anything which could dampen it should be cause for concern.

And while it's fair to say no-one should spread lies, seeking amends should not come at the expense of fair public debate or the public purse - which can be quite expensive for little result.

Getting an injunction in the Supreme Court can cost between $20,000-$30,000 minimum - and someone could quickly pop-up and fill the void left by the critic.

This would essentially leave the council with its finger in a dike, trying to plug ever-widening cracks and racking up hundreds of thousands in costs with no guarantee of reimbursement to public coffers.

RELATED: Careful what you say about the council, it could cost you

And while a good faith "exceptional" bar is set into the policy, it's fair to question its use. For example, I've seen films which I'd call exceptional but many say are ordinary - it's a judgement call, not a legal requirement.

It's subjective and could change from needing to clear the equivalent of the Olympic pole vault record for approval, to merely proving they can jump the neighbour's fence.

And that's without mentioning the absurdity of a ratepayer funding legal action against themselves, or the Barbra Streisand effect where a bright, shining spotlight is aimed at the problem itself.

While it may aim to curb "untrue and unwarranted adverse public statements", it instead leaves the council open to warranted criticism.

Gympie Times


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