Proposed Australian law makes it an offense to insult Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien

The state of Victoria, Australia is considering legislation making it an offense to "assault, obstruct, hinder, threaten, abuse, insult or intimidate" the state's Gaming Minister Michael O'Brien or his staff. Laws against insulting government ministers are not customary in liberal democracies, a fact that has not escaped the opposition in Victoria's Parliament:

State Labor has seized on the extraordinary amendment, with Opposition gaming spokesman Martin Pakula branding the minister "Windscreens O'Brien - because this proves he's got a glass jaw".

"Is the minister so precious that he now needs legislation to protect him from insults?" he said.

"I thought I better make these comments before the Bill passes in case I breach the new rules and insult Mr O'Brien."

(Image: Not very insulting, a Creative Commons Attribution (2.0) image from 13825570@N04's photostream)



  1. Opposition gaming spokesman Martin Pakula branding the minister
    “Windscreens O’Brien – because this proves he’s got a glass jaw”.

    That’s what Pakula thinks now, but we’ll see if he changes his tune once it costs AU$12,000 to say things like that.

    1. The article makes mention of awarding a licence to run a  lottery, so I’m guessing he presides over gambling regulation.

  2. I’d like to take the opportunity to appreciate that, in the United States, criticizing our government is not only protected by the constitution, it’s a national pastime.

    1. Yeah and then you’ll get killed by a rocket from a remotely controlled drone or abducted to a torture camp. 

      I’d like to take the opportunity to appreciate that other western democracies value and protect the right to life unlike the United States. 

      BTW there is difference between insulting and criticizing someone.

      1. as there is a difference between between reality and fantasy. 

        I lived in the US for 26 years (1 year in japan) and have yet to be hit by drone rockets or be sent to a torture camp BUT yeah way to undermine your point in the first sentence. 

        1. I think you misunderstood my point. I’m just a little annoyed that in every single article where some crazy anti-democratic laws in other countries are mentioned there is a USAnian waving his flag and berating those silly foreigners that the US is the “Craddle of Freedom” when it’s clearly no better or even worse than other western democratic countries. My first sentence was only an example of things the US Government did that would be considered unthinkable in a western European country.

  3. What the hell is going on in Victoria since I left. I’m going over next month from fellow Liberal state Western Australia and will be both insulting “ohhhhh, ohhhh, oh… O’Brien!” and swearing in public. 

    $12,238.90 all up. Geez..

  4. I’ll be looking forward to insulting Mr. O’Brien on a daily basis if this law passes, just for the principle of the thing.

  5. Please do not continue to spread the FUD about this law by selective quoting. The text of the legislation actually goes on to include “exercising “due diligence” in monitoring gambling systems such as pokies”, so it is an offence to “assault, obstruct, hinder, threaten, abuse, insult or intimidate” the minister or authorised persons _while they are carrying out their duties monitoring gaming systems and venues_. You can insult the fscker all you want at other times, but if he, or an authorised gaming officer, is at your business inspecting or monitoring your gaming systems, you cannot obstruct them as they perform their duties.

    Doesn’t anyone read TFA anymore? Not even the BoingBoingers who post this isht? some days I think this place is getting as bad as Slashdot.

    1. No one was objecting to the “obstruct” part. So why does this guy need a law preventing others from insulting him as he performs his duties? Does any other profession in Australia enjoy such protections?

      1. No one objects to the obstruct part, but no one is even bothering to quote the part of the law that states these protections _only_ apply while the officers are performing their duties. Police, ticket inspectors, postal workers – all have similar protections in place.

      2. And in this case, the law Specifically mentions the Minister, not just the officers. I’m fine with the actual officers being insulated from harassment, but the Minister has enough of a bully pulpit, he doesn’t need additional protection.

    1. I agree that the law appears stupid, but authorised gaming officers do get abused and threatened while carrying out their duties. They need some protection and this law gives them that. What the media (and BoingBoing) are doing, is selectively quoting the law, making it seem overly broad.

  6. In Australia, there is an implied constitutional guarantee of the ability to communicate about political matters, and this protection also operates on the state level.

    Basically, the adequacy of the execution and maintenance of the gambling legislation is such a matter. Communications about that issue might obstruct, hinder, abuse, insult or intimidate the relevant Minister, and come within the proposed law. Therefore, the law is possibly contrary to the Constitution.

  7. Ew, you linked to the Herald Sun? Also, reading the actual legislation makes it clear, as has been said, that it’s by no means a blanket ban on insulting the Minister.

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