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The Forum > Article Comments > Our fragile liberty > Comments

Our fragile liberty : Comments

By Bruce Haigh, published 25/2/2013

As long as Australia does not have a bill of rights, transgressions against individual freedoms are made easier.

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An excellent and well reasoned article.

One of these days Australians will wake up to the fact that what 'rights' we are assumed to have are being eroded day by day?

What event might stir that?

What concerns does Foreign Minister Carr have for Australians wrongly imprisoned or detained overseas through abuse of legal process? We are hardly on firm ground in this regard given our treatment of refugees with legitimate grounds for asylum. It is doubtful that a change or government would see much improvement in these respects.
Posted by Andrew Farran, Monday, 25 February 2013 9:21:44 AM
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For any Bill of Rights to protect our liberties, it must first recognise the responsibility of all to pay to the public purse the economic rent of land and natural resources over which they've been granted the exclusive possession. The status quo is the logical extension of our not having been required to do so: we've made commodities of our land and natural resources, speculating in them and attempting to monopolise and make a profit from them.

This has resulted in the dispossession of the aboriginal people and poor in North America and Australia. South Australia was openly founded on the (Wakefield) plan of keeping the lower class subservient to their masters by selling land at "sufficient price" that workers would not be able to afford a block of their own.

When the US founding fathers attempted to get to grips with payment of rent for the exclusive possession of land, the recommendation was deleted by self-interested big landowners and replaced by the motherhood catch-all "the pursuit of happiness".

A Bill of Rights without this initial requirement can never rectify the dispossession wrought upon the indigenous and poor of any nation and becomes a mockery of rights.

Such a requirement in the preamble to a re-written Australian constitution would amount to the long-awaited treaty.
Posted by freddington, Monday, 25 February 2013 9:48:44 AM
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Your last three paragraphs are good.

In America you need to go to court if you want to appoint yourself as the manager of somebody else's life, but in Australia those decisions are made by Tribunals that are not bound to any of the principles of "natural justice" or the rules of evidence. The Tribunal Acts assume the Tribunals will comply with natural justice principles but provide no assurance of that. The Tribunals can and have acted to cover-up misdeeds by fellow Tribunal members at the expense of the elderly and carers who have been targeted for asset stripping by their relatives or in a case I know of complete strangers.

Likewise hospital staff can be tricked into using chemical restraints like risperidone to incapacitate you before interviewing or diagnosing if you need to be restrained. If you own a house or other assets then relatives and complete strangers would have fiscal motive, and they would probably succeed if they have the gumption to make the allegations that convince hospital staff to restrain you at first sight. Once the hospital administration discover's its staff mistake days later, it will protect its fiscal interest by denying that any law has been broken. The victims have no hope of help from the police or others once the hospital accuse the victims of mental illness.

It is easy to make somebody effectively a non-citizen in Australia, it is done to thousands of innocent people every year while the police and others are too busy with 'real crime'.

Yes it is illegal to do these things, you could pay a hundred dollar fine for example if anybody had ever used that un-used provision of an Act; and restraining people without asking them if they have capacity in NSW is a violation of your right listed in a schedule attached to a Information Privacy Act - but the police will not help you assert your civil rights that are not listed in criminal statutes.

Every Australian citizen is vulnerable, they just don't know it.
Posted by Daeron, Monday, 25 February 2013 9:50:52 AM
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What ever happened to my birthright to life that I must now serve an increasingly unsustainable function in an unsustainable system? If I do have a right to life, surely I have a right to the elements provided by nature for life including free access to land for shelter? Was Leo Tolstoy right when he said that solving the land question means the solving of all social questions?

@landrights4all
Chris Baulman
Posted by landrights4all, Monday, 25 February 2013 10:39:48 AM
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A Bill of Rights must be accompanied by education, enforcement, training of law enforcement bodies and review. The Bill of Rights was added to the US Constitution shortly after its adoption in 1789. For over 80 years slavery, a massive violation of human rights, continued to exist. Even now with a dark-skinned president racism still exists in the law enforcement bodies and the general public. Human rights must be for all.

In Australia an HREOC publication called "Racist Violence" offered evidence that a prominent perpetrator of violence against the Aborigines were members of the various commonwealth law enforcement bodies. They were violating common law since common law forbids incitement and harassment. Possibly some of the police didn't even know they were committing criminal acts. However, even though Australia doesn't have a Bill of Rights they were violating the law.

Laws including a Bill of Rights must be periodically reviewed. The Second Amendment to the US Constitution states:

A well regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.

The above was adopted in an era when rifles were single shot flintlocks. In my opinion in an era of assault weapons capable of firing with machine gun rapidity it should no longer apply.

A Bill of Rights must be accompanied by education, enforcement, training of enforcement bodies and review.
Posted by david f, Monday, 25 February 2013 10:44:13 AM
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We don't need a bill of 'rights'. We do need a bill of Responsibility. Same outcome, different mindset.
Posted by Prompete, Monday, 25 February 2013 12:46:22 PM
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