Matt Canavan says he jokes with colleagues about discrimination complaints

Liberal senator Matt Canavan has commented on the recent complaint against Tasmanian Senator Claire Chandler saying it was something the pair joked about during a recent catch-up.

Senator Canavan made the comment on a YouTube video with Lyle Shelton, the former head of Australia’s No campaign against marriage equality. Shelton has recently launched a weekly video series where he speaks to conservative allies.

“Recently a colleague of mine, Claire Chandler, was in a bit of hot water with the Tasmanian Anti-discrimination Commissioner or some-such, criticising her for having the temerity to suggest that female bathrooms should be reserved for people of the female sex.” Senator Canavan said.

“I was joking with her the other day that, ‘Is there anyway you can get that Tasmanian Discrimination Commissioner to take a complaint out on me as well’, because its been great for Claire’s profile.”

Senator Canavan said dealing with complaints of discrimination was a “little bit frustrating” but said opposition showed that as a politician you were having an impact.

While Canavan shared that he thought complaints were a minor inconvenience and laughed off by politicians, Senator Chandler had previously described the experience as something that she was “furious” about and she saw as having a “chilling” effect on society.

Asked by Shelton, who is himself waiting to appear before a similar commission in Queensland, what could be done to limit the power of “kangaroo courts”, Senator Canavan said he was in favour of removing anti-discrimination laws.

“I’d prefer not to have these laws in place. We’re trying ourselves in the Commonwealth parliament to protect free speech, or free speech in regards to religious freedom at least.” Senator Canavan said.

Senator Canavan said he believed it was time Australia considered introducing a Bill of Rights, citing a series of events that have occurred during the Covid-19 period as his motivation for supporting the call for a US style system. Describing his views on the issue as “emerging” Senator Canavan said Australia needed to consider a new approach.

“The real issue is should we have a positive protection of free speech, so the default is you can say whatever you like, and then there will obviously be some limitations in regards to defamation and slander and those sort of things, and vilification and incitement to violence, all those things should be illegal, or  do we sort of start with a restrictive view and then list ‘these are the things you can say.'”

Lyle Shelton said he believed words like vilification and offence were too open to interpretation and had been weaponised by activists.

OIP Staff


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