Community groups raised concerns about the efficacy of certain provisions of the Crimes Act
The NSW government has announced that former NSW Supreme Court Chief Justice Tom Bathurst will conduct a comprehensive review of state laws about regulating incitement to violence.
Bathurst, who is currently the NSW Law Reform Commission chairperson, will review the policy objectives and effectiveness of s. 93Z of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW). This pivotal section makes it an offence to publicly threaten or incite violence against an individual based on race, religious belief, or affiliation.
The decision to undertake this review stems from concerns voiced by various community groups regarding the efficacy of s. 93Z. Recent procedural adjustments have streamlined prosecutions under this section, eliminating the need for the Director of Public Prosecutions' prior approval.
Bathurst's review will not be confined to local statutes, as it will also scrutinise analogous laws in other jurisdictions, such as the UK. The goal is to explore potential avenues for reforming section 93Z, ensuring it remains robust and relevant in today's diverse society.
NSW Premier Chris Minns emphasised the government's commitment to curbing hate speech and incitement to violence. "This review, to be conducted by one of the state's most respected legal minds, will be considered and thorough and help provide the community with confidence that our laws are operating effectively," Minns said.
Commenting on the broader context, Minns acknowledged the profound impact of events in the Middle East on many families and communities. He reiterated the government's dedication to creating an environment where all communities can live peacefully without violence or threats.
Acting Attorney-General Ron Hoenig underscored the importance of the review, framing it as a crucial step toward fortifying legal frameworks and promoting social cohesion.
"NSW has many support services for people experiencing vilification, including access to help from the NSW Anti-Discrimination Board and NSW Police,” he said. “But if there is more to be done, we will do it because we are committed to protecting our harmonious, multicultural community."
The Terms of Reference for the review are currently being developed in collaboration with Bathurst.