Civil Liberties

Australian State Bans Swearing


Lawmakers in the Australian state of Queensland are proving just how upside down that country really is. Recently introduced legislation would allow police officers to issue on-the-spot fines of $100 AUD ($86.50) for swearing in public:

Premier Anna Bligh announced the new powers for police to issue on-the-spot notices for public nuisance offences on Tuesday.

Ms Bligh said the move would increase efficiency, save time and fast-track more important matters in the courts by stopping minor public nuisance offenders from clogging the justice system.

She said the measures, targeting offences such as public urination, disorderly conduct and abusive language, would save the Government between $18 million and $30 million.

The power to issue on-the-spot fines of between $100 and $300 could result in public nuisance prosecutions soaring 20 per cent, based on figures from a 12-month trial in South Brisbane and Townsville.

In 2008-2009 terms, that could see 5500 more people slapped with the offence across Queensland each year.

Ms Bligh said it was hard to estimate if the 20 per cent increase would hold true right across the state.

With the ability to arbitrarily violate a fundamental human right, increase revenues, and bypass the court system, this is sure to be a real win for police. I'd just hate to be the fucking guy who starts spouting off at a cop before he's had his coffee and donuts. At least some people in Australia see the folly of this type of legislation:

F—. BANG 100 bucks.

S*!# POW Another Hundgee..

Ok, it may have to be a bit more offensive than that. But are we really going to give every policeman in the force the power to take our money if they deem our language a tad naughty?

There will be regulations on what's naughty and what's not but until now we were put in front of a judge—an esteemed, educated enforcer of the rule of law—to decide whether we were being a nuisance or not.

By 2011 it will be Joe Blow everyday Mr Policeman who will be judge, jury and executioner.

Capn' Bligh told our reporter the new laws would increase efficiency, save time and fast-track more important matters in the courts.

A former court reporter for the Courier-Mail agreed, telling me in the newsroom yesterday people will prefer to pay a fine from home instead of fronting up to court for an embarrassing and relatively minor offence.

I don't know.

If I was drunk and disorderly, I reckon an on-the-spot fine would be unlikely to make me pull my head in there and then.

Pros and cons aside, you have to question a law which gives cops the ability to give on-the-spot fines for non-defamatory words uttered in public.

What ever happened to freedom of speech?

Good question, mate.