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Federal

Feb 17, 2010

Abbott's Muslim comment shows the need for a Human Rights Act

Yesterday, Tony Abbott commented about keeping Muslims out of the country. It's proof that we need a Human Rights Act to protect our democracy from personal bias, writes Mark Blumer.

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Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s comments in the media yesterday — about keeping Muslims out of Australia using border protection measures  — is the perfect example of why we need a Human Rights Act for Australia.

Bailed up by an elderly woman at a shopping centre, Abbott experienced this exchange:

Old woman with a shopping trolley: I want to be in a country that’s not going to be run by Muslims.

Tony Abbott: I understand what you’re saying ma’am, and as I said the important thing is to make the borders secure and that way people will be happier that the right people are coming to our country.

An Act enshrining those rights that Australians hold dear, would help protect our democracy from such personal bias.

Australians need an impenetrable, statutory provision with constitutional certainty that they know beyond any doubt will protect and defend them against any attack on their civil rights. Without such a document, government leaders can decide to ban entry because of their own religious bias, but with a Human Rights Act, personal prejudice can be challenged.

In recent times, both sides of politics have been guilty of using the religious message, blatantly or subliminally, to win votes, just as the “tough-on-crime” political tactic used fear to win votes.

As a result we are seeing civil rights being eroded across the country with the introduction of legislation curbing the right to free association, mandatory sentencing of youth in Western Australia and race-based laws such as the intervention.

These new laws, that are creeping in, should be of real concern to all Australians who value their quality of life. They are paternalistic and infringe on basic human rights.

The argument being forwarded against the need for a Human Rights Act, was that this would give the judiciary more power. The only power that the statutory model, being considered, would give would be the right to ask questions of the government when making decisions. Laws that appear to be inconsistent with such an Act would also be highlighted and then go back to parliament for reconsideration.

Let’s not any of us being naïve here. Politics is not always about true suffrage and representation. Politicians often use their power inappropriately and there are those elected by a minority that hold the government to ransom because of their parliamentary balance of power.

We are the only democratic country in the world that doesn’t have such a legal instrument to help protect our fundamental beliefs about what is right and fair.

Isn’t it time we got rid of this loophole that continues to trip up the rights of all Australians and to ensure decision making is free of prejudice?

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50 thoughts on “Abbott’s Muslim comment shows the need for a Human Rights Act

  1. skink

    Western Australia’s new stop-and-search laws also deserve a mention

    WA police are to be given the right to stop and search any citizen without reason or suspicion.

    Premier Colin Barnett has opposed an Upper House Parliamentary review of the legislation, leading to understandable cries of ‘Police State!”

  2. Liz45

    Mark, obviously bigotted Abbott and that racist woman were away from the country when we learned of people from Afghanistan in Australia, working extremely hard. Isn’t that why the train from Perth to Alice Springs? is called ‘The Ghan’? How many yrs ago was that? Over 100 yrs?

    The Constitution has racism ingrained in it. The only protection against this was the Racial Discrimination Act, which Howard removed to invade the NT and initiate his draconian policy of income ‘management’ etc. All the organisations, community centres fought for for years have gone. It’s now governance by Federal decree, which one community at least has said, ‘enough’? I agree with them! It’s horrific!

    I’m all for a Bill of Rights or the equivalent – I don’t care what it’s called, as long as it makes all the hateful instances in the above article plus SKINK’s added ones illegal. People like Bob Carr have their own agenda for actively agitating against this – you can’t walk all over indigenous people, women or Muslims and uphold human rights. Villawood Detention Centre in Sydney, under his watch, led to the mental illness and trauma of many people who were locked up there, including at least 2 young children!

    We’d also see the end of holding people who’ve not committed a crime in jails, like Christmas Island, Villawood etc. I find much of the Opposition’s nonsense and fear making re “protecting our borders” and the number of people on Christmas Island frustrating and incredulous? Who built it to take over 800 people in the first place? They did, and I don’t recall even a hint of outrage over that? Why didn’t their so-called “strong messages” to would be aylum seekers work? If they were so good, why spend millions of dollars on a maximum security jail for hundreds of people? Perhaps they were going to use it for political prisoners, such as those who went on strike against racism or WorstChoices or the way kids and others were being treated in those jails, otherwise referred to as detention centres?

  3. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    And I don’t want to be in a country run by Catholic fundamentalists! Can I say that?

  4. Most Peculiar Mama

    “…Opposition leader Tony Abbott’s comments in the media yesterday — about keeping Muslims out of Australia…”

    What rubbish….talk about long bows.

    The only people who keep prattling on about the need for a Bill of Rights are lawyers like yourself.

    With the huge piles of easy cash to be made prosecuting everyone I’m hardly surprised.

    Politics and the law should be kept at arms length.

    The judiciary should a

  5. Most Peculiar Mama

    The judiciary should also be ultimately accountable for the decisions they make.

    Let’s see how deep they press for a HRB then.

  6. Captain Col

    “The only power that the statutory model, being considered, would give would be the right to ask questions of the government when making decisions. ”

    So Mark, is this your absolute final position? I’m sure you won’t tell us but I suspect that is only your opening gambit. Perhaps secretly, you desire a much stronger power, even eventually a constitutional amendment. Tell us it aint so. Skink wants more, LIZ45 wants more. 2 out of 3 aint bad to borrow from Meatloaf.

    BTW I see no problem with us selecting ‘the right people’ to come to our country. We do it now and we would be stupid to do otherwise.

  7. R.Bobbie

    So the “secure Borders” takes care of muslims? But Tony, what about the existing Australian muslims? The 2006 census indicated there were more than 300,000 living in our wonderful country. TA’s not up to speed on the facts that we already are a multicultural nation with Australians themselves choosing to be muslims. Newflash: Time has moved on from the days of predominantly white, anglo-saxon christians inhabiting Australia.

  8. JamesK

    With Brennan’s report so beloved of pantywaists, lefty lawyers and the perennial self-righteous ‘progressive’ meddlers in others affairs receiving the cold shoulder from the Australian people that it so richly deserves the nutters now screech ever more pathetically malcontent………

  9. meski

    Abbott – once a dog-whistler, always a dog-whistler. And that speech is a prime example of the craft

  10. Pete WN

    Abbott seems smart to bang on about Border Security (*yawn*). It’s an issue where Rudd looked truly vulnerable last year. I think it violated Malcolm’s principles (and rightly so IMO) but Abbott perhaps is reading the political tea leaves here.

    On a sperate note, did anyone notice the story of the sick PNG girl who took a dinghy into Australian Territory for medical treatment? Show us your ‘Border Security’.

    … (good outcome for the girl though)

  11. Skepticus Autartikus

    This paranoid rant needs to distributed as widely as possible so that the rest of the nation can see exactly what Trojan Horse these unrepresentative Human Rights Act nutters are up to. If such legislation is intended as a means of shopping centre surveillance, then better we let the Muslims in and kick out these fascist thought-police.

    What Mr. Blummer needs to understand is that we, the body politic, will decide who comes into the country and the manner in which they will come.

    The fact that Mr. Blummer has been so brazen in broadcasting his belief that the ‘rights’ of foreigners should take precedence over the Australian people and our parliament is a disgrace, but sadly shows just what these people are up to.

    Thank god, Labor – both Left and Right – agree that the “human rights” set are to be ignored, as are their recent recommendations following their ‘consultation’ among their own unsavoury hivemind.

  12. Gratton Wilson

    Abbott seems to have missed the boat. Muslim people have been coming to and going from Australia as early as the 16th or 17th centuries.They were also among the early settlers in colonial days and from the 1800’s they have made a significant contribution to Australian development both economically and socially, something a Rhodes Scholar and aspirant Prime Minister is surely aware. We can only conclude that Abbott is a racist in a multicultural society and therefore not a person we should ever have in high elected office.

    Gratton Wilson

  13. skink

    just how many trolls are there that subscribe to Crikey?

    do you really pay money so that you can sit alone at home in your jocks in front of the computer fulminating at everything you read here? isn’t there somewhere you can do that for free, maybe where you could meet like-minded friends?

    do you all have a little file of handy ad-hominems like ‘lefty pantywaists’ that you can paste into your snarky epithets, along with chunks of Planet Janet and bits of ‘Atlas Shrugged’?

    Perhaps you could create a keyboard shortcut that could add them automatically like emoticons.

    and when you add those delighful bits of RANDom capilisation, do you hit the keyboard really hard for added emphasis?

  14. meski

    @Skink:
    Raises hand.

    But I’m at work, and dressing like that would get me in trouble.

    I do try to avoid ad-hominems, and try to point them out when I spot them.

    While we’re doing the grammar thing, can I point out that plurals do not need an apostrophe, and that there’s not supposed to be a space between the end of a sentence and the terminating punctuation.

  15. Skepticus Autartikus

    Skink

    If that is the level of come-back that the ‘human rights’ fascists can only muster, we have nothing to worry about. Like being flogged with warm lettuce.

  16. Most Peculiar Mama

    @skink

    “…do you really pay money so that you can sit alone at home in your jocks in front of the computer fulminating at everything you read here? isn’t there somewhere you can do that for free, maybe where you could meet like-minded friends?…”

    I’ll take stupid irony for 1000 bucks, thanks Graham.

    Post discussions of your personal life and habits on your MySpace page and stick to the topic.

  17. skink

    when has MPM ever stuck to the topic, except when the topic is herself?

  18. James Bennett

    @R.Robbie,

    I don’t think too many people actually choose to be Muslim at all, i think it may be a litte more sinister than that.
    And as with other religions it generally starts at a very young age.

    BTW would the Muslim religion itself in all it’s wacky forms actually be allowed under this proposed bill of rights ?

    If we could get a bill that stopped adults teaching kids some of the rubbish that is passed off as culturally or religiously important we’d be on the right track.

    I’ve always thought Australia’s strength lay in it’s capacity for apathy .

    I say keep out anyone who is too enthusiastic about anything.

  19. Most Peculiar Mama

    Let’s see the author defend a fathers ‘right’ to mutilate the genitalia of his five-year old daughter to uphold his BoR recognised “cultural” traditions.

    Next.

  20. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    MPM, I’ll think you’ll find that the implementation of genital mutilation is conducted by the women. Of course it’s some twisted bit of paternalism in that it’s to satisfy a grotesque notion of ‘purity’ before marriage, but it’s reinforced by the mothers.

  21. skink

    @MPM

    your genital mutilation conundrum is a furphy

    FGM is subject to mandatory reporting in most states and territories and anyone guilty of performing or procuring FGM faces seven years jail.

    that would not change under any BoR. If anything the rights of the child would be strengthened since High Court rulings and United Nations conventions on the rights of parents and children and legal consent in terms of bodily integrity argue against parental-consent circumcision.

    er, next?

  22. Little Eric

    Skink –
    Don’t feed the trolls!

  23. Venise Alstergren

    AND I WANT TO LIVE IN A COUNTRY WHICH ISN’T BEING RUN BY CATHOLIC fundamentalists and other christian self-helpers whose idea of self-help is to help themselves to our freedom and our democracy. How dare that little sleaze-ball, Tony Abbott, tell me who are ‘the right people’ to come to this country. Contemptible little arsehat (apologies to First Dog)

    Of course this country needs some form of Civil Rights Bill, so that all the far right-wing fundamentalists can have action threatened against them for their desire to turn this country into a theocracy. The day will come when the electorate finally gets sick of being dictated to by wielders of religion all in the name of personal power. But it isn’t coming quickly enough.

    LIZ: I’ll have to take your word that our Constitution has racism ingrained in it. However, at least it tells us we are free to believe in whatever religion we choose to believe in. If the almost overwhelming amount of Catholics, on both sides of the political spectrum have their way we can kiss our constitution and our personal freedoms goodbye.

    Wake up Australia. Don’t be suckered into jettisoning our only safeguard against the Tony Abbotts, Kevin Andrews, Barnaby Joyces, Kevin Rudds, Steve Conroys, Christopher Pynes, Steve Fieldings and the dozens of their fellow travellers which infest our political scene.

    Bring on a Civil Rights Bill ASAP.

  24. John james

    Isn’t this a classic beat up and how Australians ought to shudder when the lawyers tell you that the best way to protect your human rights is to have more court cases, with lawyers pocketing their usual cut of the action.
    Abbo is expressing what the latte sipping, inner city, out-of-work, law graduates, writing their briefs for the infringement of jihadists rights, fail to grasp.
    That the flow of boat people puts their own, and often Australian service personnel’s lives, at risk, and needs to be stopped.

  25. daveliberts

    I can’t say I’m that offended by Tony Abbott’s comment. It’s a natural conclusion to the inherent racism/tendancy-towards-religious-vilification-of-those-with-different-views of many Australians that voters raise these issues with politicians. It’s a further natural conclusion that sometimes political parties dog-whistle on the basis of these same prejudices. There are statements about Abbott’s Catholicism on this page which seem to me to be the moral equivalent of what Abbott said. The Howard Government’s code for “we share your concerns about towlheads” was tough immigration policy. The woman has dropped the feed-line to Abbott and he’s responded with the codeline she loves to hear to make her feel better. Is it intolerant, prejudical and generally disgusting? Absolutely. Is it totally normal? Definitely. But let’s remember some history here. Previous waves of immigrants didn’t need a bill of rights to overcome being at the centre of prejudice. They just needed the next wave of immigrants to take the spotlight off them. I can certainly see that Aborigines would benefit from a bill of rights though because racism against indigenous people doesn’t seem to be reducing as far as I can see.

  26. daveliberts

    Once again I’ve missed an obvious point – how the hell would a bill of rights have prevented the exchange which occurred between Abbott and the voter? Neither has strictly speaking vilified Muslims. Sure they’ve dog-whistled, but how would a bill of rights prevent thought-crime? How was the quoted conversation related to a bill of rights in any practical way?

  27. CHRISTOPHER DUNNE

    Or more to the point DL, if a BoR’s classes discriminatory speech as a violation, then how can say “I don’t want to be ruled by Catholics” (fundamentalist or otherwise) without some lawyer pulling out his pocket calculator?

    Be careful what you wish for is the saying that comes to mind.

  28. Flower

    Afghan Muslims would frequent an outback trading post every Thursday in the 40s and they’d give the local kids a ride on their camels (ever had your arm sucked by a camel – phew!) In fact, history reports that there was a mosque in Coolgardie but how the hell would we pie and pea kids (and our parents) have known they were “Muslims” or even cared? The bad critters were the “Micks”, or if you were a “Mick,” those “proddos” were evil bastards!

    The more things change for some , the more they stay the same hey Captain Catholic?

  29. Most Peculiar Mama

    @skink

    “…FGM is subject to mandatory reporting in most states and territories and anyone guilty of performing or procuring FGM faces seven years jail…”

    Really.

    Then why is so much of it going unreported.

    “Female circumcision happening in Australia”

    abc.net.au/news/stories/2010/02/06/2812147.htm?section=justin

  30. Most Peculiar Mama

    @Little Eric

    You’re as bad as the wingnuts on Bolt”s blog.

    Surprise me by saying something intelligent.

  31. Venise Alstergren

    JOHN JAMES: To not have a Bill of Rights because it would provide the legal profession with more work makes as much sense as refusing to breathe because you might get an infection.

    Do you have to resort to the use of the ‘Have you stopped beating your wife yet?’ type questions? They do nothing to aid your case.

    DAVELIBERTS: You are being specious and cute. Tony Abbott is a bully. With a Bill of Rights in place he would have to control his personal prejudices rather than flaunt them. Who knows we may even get a chance to reduce the unspeakable right of all religion to brain-wash their kids into patterns of inherited hatred.

    Israeli children are brought up to believe that it is acceptable to treat Palestinians as being semi-human, that is fine to take their land and to treat them the way the Jewish people were treated during WWII. A test group of Israeli children were asked whether it was alright to seize the land of the Palestinians. To persecute them, to reduce their quality of life and to deny them their basic human rights. The brain-washed children answered in the affirmative.

    A year later the same children were told the story of a Chinese warlord of the Yüan dynasty who took the land of neighbouring countries, who was brutal and helped himself to their women. That he allowed their husbands to be tortured and humiliated. And who deprived them of the will to live. Because the scene had now been set in ancient China the children saw this warlord’s actions as despicable and branded him as a tyrant. A Bill of Rights could help to proscribe such manipulation of our children’s lives.

    What we would also have is protection against those people who are happy to go along with a dictatorship as long as the dictator is of their own personal religion.

  32. skink

    @MPM

    the fact that FGM is happening behind closed doors does not mean that it should happen, or the fact that it is illegal. Nor does it validate your spurious suggestion that it might be recognized as legitimate cultural tradition by a Human Rights Act.

    you pretty much just shoot from the hip, don’t you? concentrate on the argument rather than the invective.

    On my first point it appears that Premier Colin Barnett is back-pedalling on arbitrary stop and search powers, and may let it die in committee, such is the public backlash.

    maybe there are some libertarians still surviving in the Liberal Party

  33. savemejeebus

    Can’t we rid ourselves of terms like “border protection” and “secure borders”? These are merely dog-whistling to the intolerant, conjuring images of an armed line of defense and an invading hoard of barbarians. The people who seek asylum are usually desperate women and children who deserve our compassion, not our unjustified hatred.

  34. Venise Alstergren

    Sorry: Lines 2-3, para four. Should have read ‘A test group of Israeli children was
    asked whether it was alright….’

  35. daveliberts

    Venise, I was being somewhat specious but not as specious as the comparison between one of the world’s most politically/ethnically/religiously fraught situations and Australia. I firmly believe in multiculturalism and would describe our multicultural society as being generally a very successful one. Millions of migrants from most corners of the globe have successfully integrated into Australian society. The examples of failed integrations are far fewer than those of highly successful integration. Muslims have, for the most part, successfully integrated – the oldest mosque in my home city of Adelaide is well over a century old. The problem they’ve had in recent years is more a consequence of international events and the highly publicised action of a few loonies than anything which would justify the comments of the woman in the article to Tony Abbott. None of this, however, will change the fact that some people just love to discriminate and most societies in the world tend to exhibit similar tendancies in some sections of the population. You can’t criminalise this, you have to engage with it but ultimately accept that there will be some people you can’t win over.

    There is some relevance to your example, though. At the school I attended, the teachers had no problems allowing students to get away with any discriminatory comments they wanted to make about Aborigines. The school’s Aboriginal population was zero. Many students graduated with some extraordinary prejudices. A bill of rights would do squat about that.

    This article, from the title onwards, insists that the discourse between the voter and Tony Abbott is precisely the sort of conduct which would not occur if the proposed act was enacted as the author wants. I say that there is not a single word of the conversation in question that would be prevented by a human rights act unless thought-crime was fair game, and I’m pretty sure that the proponants of a bill of rights would not intend it to be literally Orwellian. Perhaps a better example is needed for me to grasp the need for such an act. Logically, it makes sense to me that such an act would need to provide genuinely restorative justice for Aborigines who have been displaced from their land, deprived of royalties and exposed to massive institutional racism. I can tell you for free that such an act would be intolerable to a good 80% of the Australian population.

  36. Most Peculiar Mama

    @skink

    “…concentrate on the argument rather than the invective….”

    Don’t be so disingenuous. You were presented with facts.

    Here’s the argument:

    Melbourne’s Royal Women’s Hospital says it is seeing between 600 and 700 women each year who have experienced it in some form.

    Somali-born Zeinab Mohamud, from the hospital’s Family and Reproductive Rights Education Program, says much of her work involves untangling some outdated cultural traditions and religious misconceptions.

    “Some questions that we ask the women is ‘why were you doing it?’ and they will tell you, ‘because of my religion‘,” she said.

    “Some people when they hear they say, ‘how can that happen?’ It’s when something is cultural and the people have been doing it for so long, it’s not easy to either eliminate it or to say, ‘you have got a bad culture’,” she said.

    “You have to work with them, listen to them. You have to know where they are coming from in order to help them.”

    Dr Ted Weaver (from the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists) agrees and he says ordering people against the practice would be inappropriate. [Even though it is illegal]

    “If we try and dictate and pontificate about this and not provide culturally appropriate care, we’ll further disenfranchise those women,” he said.

    FGM and honour killings are the tip of the iceberg for defensible “cultural tradition” under a BoR.

    There is no logical argument for a Bill of Rights in this country.

  37. skink

    you have shown that FGM exists
    you have shown that it is illegal.
    I do not dispute that.

    you have not offered an facts about how FGM, and now honour killings, would be defensible under any Human Rights Act currently tabled.

    A logical argument for a Human Rights Act was presented in each of the 35,000 submissions to the Brennan Report. Why don’t you cut and paste a bit of that? Or maybe just read it.

  38. skink

    “It astonishes me to find that so many of our countrymen should be contented to live under a system which leaves to their governors the power of taking from them the trial by jury, freedom of religion, freedom of the press, freedom of commerce, and the habeas corpus laws. This is a degeneracy in the principles of liberty”

    Thomas Jefferson

    I thought I would cut and paste just one ‘logical argument’ in favour of a human rights act

    I could find some Locke, Paine, Rousseau, if you want a pasting fight, but I fear you have little time for people such as these, who participated in an Enlightenment that seems to have passed you by.

  39. meski

    Ok, are we going to ban ‘traditional’ spearing as well? I’d doubt that you could defend that in a HRA, any more than FGM or honour killings.

  40. shepherdmarilyn

    Australia has a racist constitution that allows it to demonise any group we don’t like.

    But if one more media person equates border security and refugee protection I will personally gut them.

    Find one reference to border security in the refugee convention, just one.

    Go on.

    As for human rights, if anyone here thinks they have any protections they are dreaming.

    We have ratified human rights treaties galore but the only one that is enshrined in domestic law is studiously ignored by all and sundry.

    Yep, the refugee convention is enshrined in the migration act – it forbids punishment for method of arrival or lack of documents but we lock ’em up anyway, it enforces the right to legal aid, the right to work, the right to health care and strictly forbids detention except if war crimes are proven.

    Yet from 1954 we called it refugee protection, in 1999 it became border security by Howard dog whistling.

  41. daveliberts

    Great quote and a point well made Skink. It also supports the counter view when you think about how the US’s bill of rights has impacted on various discriminatory laws and policies which exist in the US. I’m no scholar of US history but the US has enacted laws and policies throughout it’s history which would seem to greatly offend Jefferson’s statement. From slavery to the subsequent decades of entrenched racism to various measures in times of war to lock up immigrants to George W Bush’s war on terror, I can’t see how the bill of rights has made much practical difference. Even if a bill of rights did knock down, say, the WA police search powers, it still wouldn’t have any effect on the exchange between Tony Abbott and the voter.

  42. davidk

    Well done Mark. There is no doubt in my mind that a BOR would be a step forward. Curious that the greatest opposition to the proposal came from Howard,who is himself a lawyer. Could it be that the reason those in power oppose a BOR is because they would themselves be subject to prosecution under such an act. Also, Isn’t a BOR the legal basis of the rights of parliamentarians as passed by the British parliament a couple of hundred years ago? Given the level of misinformation that’s flung about regarding such a proposal and the opportunity it provides for political point scoring we won’t see any progress on this front until someone with principles is back leading the coalition. Come back Malcolm, all is forgiven.

  43. Venise Alstergren

    MPM: For the first time you present a logical and lucid point of view. And you’ve done it without insulting anyone. This is an awesome occasion.

    ‘There is no logical argument for a Bill of Rights in this country’. I would prefer to read somewhere-I’m not meaning you-a logical argument AGAINST having a BOR. Anyone weighing in on the old chestnut that it would only be giving more money to the legal profession is fudging the issue.

  44. Venise Alstergren

    DAVELIBERTS: I’ve only just flown through the front door and in five minutes time I’ve got a computer lesson. But I will get back to you ASAP.

  45. skink

    @Dave

    I think you are missing the point

    I do not think the author is suggesting that a Human Rights Act would prevent Abbott from saying what he did, or for Thoughtcrime, but rather that it might hinder him, if in office, from introducing immigration legislation that differentiated by race or religion because he thinks that muslims are not ‘the right people’

  46. Venise Alstergren

    SKINK: First class quote from a man who knew where the enemy was.

    DAVID: The author, Mark Blumer, was introducing this exchange as a peg to hang his hypothesis on. A BOR cannot fight the fear that lives in so many people. But it can stop crooked politicians from manipulating that fear. (You don’t go to Jesuit school without learning a lot about instilling fear into other people.)

    The real reason we need a BOR is to make our system stronger in the face of the world drift-there has to be a stronger word- to the far right. If every other democratic country on the planet has seen fit to have a BOR perhaps they have seen something we apathetic Oz dwellers have failed to see.

  47. Venise Alstergren

    SKINK: I think our comments passed each other up in the ether!

  48. daveliberts

    Thanks Venise and Skink. I remain of the view that in practical terms a Bill of Rights would achieve bugger-all if the experience of other countries is much to go by. It would be a boon for lawyers in the early years and a bit of a relic after that. The US and the UK, as examples of relatively similar societies which have a Bill of Rights, seem to respond to the war on terror and perceived law and order issues in exactly the same way as our state and federal governments do except perhaps more harshly. Human rights are swept aside whenever this is convenient, bill of rights or not. I don’t regard a bill of rights as a threat, I just don’t think it’s anything like the panacea you hope it might be.

  49. Dave Prior

    What this country need is a lot less lawyers

  50. Venise Alstergren

    DAVELIBERTS: DAVE PRIOR: Of course the country needs less lawyers as legislators, but to not do something because they will gain employment is counter-productive.

    Daveliberts: Hey, you are talking to someone who has watched Kevin Rudd break every promise he ever made to get into power, and I live in the State of Victoria, whose guiding light, is crooked premier, John Brumby, so I’m not totally ignorant of how Oz politicians don’t work-infrequently.

    Having failed to convince you of the need for a BOR, I will fold my tent and escape with as much dignity as possible. Which is not a lot.

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