Senator Bernardi stood as a lone voice for free speech in the Senate this morning, as the Coalition, Labor and Greens parties rushed through censorship of the marriage debate.
The Australian Conservatives founder and long-time advocate for free speech reform, said the provisions of the Marriage Law Survey (Additional Safeguards) Bill were "18C on steroids, on a temporary course of steroids, to protect people from being upset" (see for instance this Sydney Morning-Herald live stream report).
For context: 18C refers to the section of the Racial Discrimination Act that made it unlawful to 'insult or offend' people on the basis of their race. See Senator Bernardi's blog post about the topic here.
Senator Bernardi also expressed alarm that the 'gatekeeper' for these complaints is Attorney-General George Brandis (who supports redefining marriage). "Do we really want anyone who is a partisan cheerleader for a side in a campaign to be sitting or rendering any form of judgement about a complaint of the conduct of one side or another?" Senator Bernardi asked.
UPDATE (Friday 15 September 2017): The executive director of the Institute for Public Affairs, John Roskam, has backed up Senator Bernardi's claim that these laws are '18C on steroids' in the Australian Financial Review today.