AAP: NSW incitement laws face overhaul amid Gaza tensions

The existing incitement laws in New South Wales may be strengthened following concerns raised by religious groups, who have argued that the current regulations are inadequate in safeguarding from violent threats.

Premier Chris Minns recently emphasised the government's commitment to providing legal protection for the diverse communities residing in the state. Minns highlighted the significance of enabling all communities to live peacefully without fear of violence. 

This review comes at a time of heightened tension surrounding the Gaza conflict and amid controversy over sermons delivered by Islamic preachers targeting Jews and Israelis. While state and federal police have probed these sermons, investigations were halted as they found no breaches of NSW or Commonwealth laws.

Premier Minns acknowledged the profound impact of the Middle East conflict on families and communities, describing it as traumatic. He expressed confidence that the thorough review led by Tom Bathurst, a highly respected legal figure in the state, would assure the community that existing laws operate effectively.

But the NSW Council for Civil Liberties said the state already had strong hate-speech laws, which existed alongside Commonwealth laws and provided civil remedies in many circumstances.

"If the legal threshold for criminal prosecutions is lowered, it will not make faith communities any safer from a perceived risk of violence or the risk of actual violence occurring," the group said.

"The law should not criminalise legitimate free speech."