"PM's partial victory on 18C", The Australian has it this morning, exercising the right in free speech to spin the truth like it was a bottle on the floor at a young libertarians IPA mixer. Partial is right. Homeopathic is more on the money. With the latest defeat of any attempt to substantially alter 18C -- what is this, the fourth, fifth, sixth? I'm losing count -- those opposed to it have served to further strengthen its position in Australian law. More significantly, they have further cemented in the principle that underlies 18C -- that freedom for the greatest number is in some circumstances achieved by the state restricting individual expressions of it. That is a not insignificant moment, as I'll make clear further on.

M'colleague Taylor has the details of how it went down, and what other purposes a seven-hour debate on this topic was serving -- but of course it went exactly as it was always going to. Team Xenophon had already indicated their opposition to any change to it, and the government had to content itself with legislating the procedural changes that the Australian Human Rights Commission said it was going to implement anyway. So a drive to decrease the power of the state ended with Parliament making law, where ordinary processes would have served. That's the 18C issue all over.