So Australia Needs a Human Rights Act ?
For a year I llstened to academics argue that Australia was behind the rest of the world in not having a charter of rights. Geoffrey Robertson and Susan Ryan argued, with the support of all university law schools, our record on rights lagged all comparable countries.
Okay, imagine this.
Australian police arrest 114 environmental activists gathered to plan the occupation of a coal-fired power plant. They photograph and monitor protestors. They use a police informer planted for seven years in the protest movement to bring the case. The case gets thrown out by a judge.
Imagine the outrage – and the argument that such police abuse now made the case for a charter of rights irresistible. Imagine the David Marr fulmination.
Trouble is this case occured in the UK, the arrests made in Nottingham last April, PC Mark Kennedy the policeman planted for seven years like an agent of the Okrana under the Tsars was a British cop and.. the case thrown out by the judge yesterday in a British court.
It happened in the UK which we have been told is a shining model for Australia because it lives under the European human rights charter.
Hence my argument, which I trust had some value in persuading the Rudd cabinet not to adopt Father Brennan’s recommendation for a human rights act : Australia because of its ethos is a damn lot freer than countries with human rights charters and there is no evidence that having one resolves every argument over balancing freedoms and duties in civil society.
Again, imagine what conclusions charter advocates would have drawn if this scandal had occurred in Oz instead of one of the jurisdictions with a charter.