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The Forum > Article Comments > Legally correct but morally reprehensible > Comments

Legally correct but morally reprehensible : Comments

By John von Doussa, published 15/10/2008

Neither the judiciary, nor people on the street, have occasion to engage face to face with the human rights problems faced by fellow Australians.

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I’m not sure that it is really our “fellow Australians” that concern the author. Like all proponents of some sort of ‘rights’ legislation, he kicks off with those ‘poor’ people who were locked up for arriving illegally, or staying illegally, in our country, and those ‘oppressive’ terrorism laws designed to actually protect people from lunatics.

His 2005 warnings about terror legislation have now proved to be without substance.

As for the homeless and aborigines, these people have had the same opportunities as everybody else; no human rights instrument will ever help them.

If “A statutory charter should not allow Courts to strike down laws that are incompatible with human rights”, then what is the point of having judges interfere and waste time and money? As I read Victoria’s abortion legislation and an apeal against it, the courts cannot do anything but refer it back to the Minister for further consideration. The Minister does not have to act.

If courts would not be allowed to “strike down laws that are incompatible with human rights”, just what would be the “meaningful remedies” provided by the super-humans of the judiciary?

Lawyers, in their arrogance, seem to think they know more about right and wrong than we “ordinary” Australians. The author's use of ‘ordinary’ to describe somebody other than himself or others not in his profession doesn’t endear the him to anyone, nor give confidence that he and other lawyers are not merely interested in more power for themselves in their wish to undermine society by usurping the role of elected representatives.
Posted by Mr. Right, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 10:03:00 AM
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John von Doussa's article is a timely warning of what can happen when 'correct' laws are made and administered without taking into account the real human dimensions of their consequences. It is time for a fundamental change in approach when a learned judge admits that he had to make a decision which "... was both legally correct and morally reprehensible".

There is something fundamentally wrong with a legal system that requires a judge simply to interpret the law when it is screamingly obvious that the law is a bad one because it hasn't taken into account the deleterious human impact of the law. ("I was not asked to understand the emotional trauma of the detainees that appeared before the court. I did not know the conditions in which asylum seekers were detained - nor did I ask. Although international law prohibits inhumane and arbitrary detention, Australian law does not.")

As President of the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, Judge von Doussa was finally confronted with the sorts of human rights problems he couldn't see sitting in a Court building. ("At Baxter I saw children - the same age as my own - and witnessed in their disturbed manner the profound damage wrought by long-term detention.")

Judge von Doussa is right to suspect "...that members of the judiciary, like people on the street, have little occasion to engage face to face with the human rights problems faced by their fellow Australians". But what he doesn't say - and should have said - is that politicians who make these terrible laws that judges have to administer are in too many cases also out of touch with the human rights problems.

Successive Ministers of Immigration, for example, in the previous twelve years, were so intent on being mean and tricky that they lost all sense of compassion and fairness. Ruddock still can't see what all the fuss was about when he imprisoned small children for years.

Maybe this is the era when judges can deal with laws such that their decisions can be both legally correct and morally right.
Posted by Spikey, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 10:08:46 AM
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The Author:

<"I would like to see the legislature focus on solving existing human rights problems and preventing human rights problems from happening in the future.">

Ok.. fine.. would my human rights NOT to be discriminated against by the allocation of STATE land for private religious purposes to people who do NOT include me, be protected in such a bill?

Would the RIGHT of Australians NOT to have their STATE land mis-used by minority (or majority) religious groups by politically "correct" but morally reprehensible Educational institutions such as Latrobe, Monash, and Melbourne Universities, be protected or abused as it is at the moment?

Would my RIGHT to be protected from the STATE being used to advance a religion which:

-Curses me because of my faith.
-Calls on it's followers to fight me and destroy me until I am subjected to it's rule
-Has a history of mass extermination of Christians as recently as 1910-1915 which saw up to 750 THOUSAND Assyrian Christians massacred along with the over a MILLION Armenians over the same period?
-Makes literature available for public sale which calls for the murder of Jews by it's followers to bring in "the last hour"?

I rather think any Bill of Rights would be a shoe on the other foot.. 'Guaranteeing the freedom to practice your religion without interference' even though your religion might be advocation Paedohilia such as the "Children of God".

Such a bill would inevitably contain the seeds of harm and abuse of such unimaginable dimensions that we would see the same abuse of rights ...just among different people, most likely 'ordinary fair minded Aussies'

How incredibly Ironic is was.. I mean..DOUBLY ironic, yesterday to have a Hijabed Kurdish girl poke her head over my shoulder saying "I couldn't help overhear..may I ask.. etc" and then express some indignation at the very thought that if her religious group ever took power non them might face problems.. IRONIC x2
1/She was here because of persecution.
2/Her own ethno-religious group spearheaded the massacre of Assyrian Christians less than a century ago!

nah... it could NEVER happen here...could it?
Posted by Polycarp, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 1:32:49 PM
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Mr Right, you're not a fool. You know perfectly well that claiming asylum isn't illegal under any Australian or international law. Saying otherwise only serves to make you look like a blinkered bigot.

And can you back up your line about the terrorism laws by telling which of them was used to apprehend the would-be terrorists in Victoria? So far the answer is "none".
Posted by Sancho, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 2:26:01 PM
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Phew, a bit of passion from POLYCARP, but there's a serious point to his remarks. Who decides what rights are to be protected? John Stuart Mill in 'On Liberty' proposed that the state should protect its citizens from harm inflicted by others but not from harm emanating from their own actions. Leaving aside silly definitions of harm like casual insults, this seems to me a pretty solid basis for the contract between the citizen and the state.

What do we do then about non-citizens, like the so-called boat people? At one level, human compassion seems to dictate that we welcome them onto our shores. Their chosen method of arrival, however, removes from us as citizens the right to ensure that they do not come with intentions to harm us and that they can and will accept the fundamental values that underpin our society. These values include a commitment to elected government, the rule of law, equality of all before the law, freedom of religion and association and so on.

In the end, charters of human rights threaten to remove from us as citizens the chance to examine the actions of those to whom we grant the privilege of governing us and to hold them accountable when we think they have erred. I don't think this is a risk worth taking.
Posted by Senior Victorian, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 2:27:59 PM
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The author talks about laws put through without adequate consideration af basic human rights relative to the NT inteverntion. What about the rights of the kids not to be abused or sexually interferred with. The human rights of the kids, I am far more interested in, rather than if the parents can spend all their social security on grog.

He raises the usual garbage about kids in detention but again no mention of the fact that they and their parents can leave at any time, if the claim for refugee status is withdrawn. Even if not, the claim would be dealt with much sooner if their papers were not destroyed and the truth told to our officials. So kids in detention are the parents responsibility. Do they want us to seperate the kids from the parents or simply let them all in because they have kids with them. Cornelia Rau was a person who deliberately set out to deceive everybody, so what do we expect our officials to do?

What about the human rights of the "Forgotten Australians" to compensation and an apology and what about the human rights of Australian girls being subject to FGM and the State Governments doing nothing to stop it or bring the offenders to justice. The human rights advocates never mention these people, they are too busy looking after those that have the money to buy their way to Australia via the back door.

I do not share the authors faith in the judicery, as almost daily we see reports of inadequate sentences being handed down to criminals.
A year or so ago a court allowed a non-citizen, convicted drug dealer, to remain here because he had fathered a child while here and to deport him could effect the child. There is a similar case now being considered about a bloke from NZ who came here on a false passport and has a n extensive criminal record. I bet he will succeed, so where is our right not to have to put up with criminals being allowed to stay here.
Posted by Banjo, Wednesday, 15 October 2008 2:32:59 PM
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