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Give up, David Marr

December 14, 2010

There won’t be a human rights act in Australia, David Marr. Because Australia is freer than many countries with one. Because there is no crisis of rights in Australia. Because our mix of judge-made law, parliamentary democracy and an uninhibited media works better.
Because the recent slew of decisions out of the High Court show courts have quite enough power as it is.

Because a conservative government could load up a charter with things that many of us would dislike – right to work powers that would hurt what remains of the trade union movement or right to property that would limit environmental protection. Because a right to privacy, to give another example, would put paid to much freedom of the media. Because it’s fallacious to imagine that the only rights that will get a look in are those liberals and progressives want and that the judges of the future will all be Michael Kirbys and not Garfield Barwicks.

And because, as Marr himself acknowledges in his lecture, the Australian people do not want one and it is bit sneaky to look at slipping one in behind their backs as Father Brennan was trying.

There is a trash button on most computers and both sides of politics have pressed it.

America had a Bill of Rights for over 150 years before blacks in the South could vote and even then it wasn’t the constitution but their own mobilisation that did it. Stalin’s constitutional bill of rights was one of the most eloquent. In the end it is a country’s ethos and political culture – the instincts of its people – that determine its freedoms.

  1. Michael permalink
    December 14, 2010 4:30 pm

    Bob, your last paragraph reeks of Tocqueville. Am I wrong? And I won’t score a cheap point by pointing out your grammatical error.

  2. Bob Carr permalink
    December 14, 2010 4:57 pm

    Yes, it is a reference to de Tocqueville – “ethos ” probably gives it away. Macaulay as well. Thanks for the correction. If words are your business you should always welcome one and I’ve corrected it, a spelling error too.

  3. Jason permalink
    December 14, 2010 8:26 pm

    Hi Bob, was generally a fan of your politics, I’m glad you’ve joined twitter to post your thoughts about the issues of today. Cheers.

  4. Jim permalink
    December 16, 2010 6:34 am

    Well done Bob, a charter is defineltly something we don’t need. Anyone monitoring he legal nonsense that comes out of the US, the clear violations of both commonsense and justice that is perpetrated in the name of the Bill of Rights could not seriiously go down this route, unless blinded by ideology we can do without.

  5. James permalink
    December 16, 2010 3:33 pm

    Marr’s article was a trite piece of trendy awfulness.

    What a jerk for trying to psychoanalyse Isaacs and O’Connor as a self-hating Jew and forelock-tugging Irishman respectively. Maybe, just maybe, the old judges were smart enough to realise that the 14th Amendment didn’t do anything to prevent Jim Crow et al.

    Marr might also benefit from Greg Craven’s strong arguments about the (albeit imperfect) democratic origins of our Constitution. Far more democratic than little Jemmy Madison brow-beating greedy New Yorkers and pompous Southerners in Philadelphia.

  6. December 19, 2010 6:08 pm

    How about we demand Human Responsibilities Act first?

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