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EYE-BALL Opinion – Former Attorney General Nicola Roxon and her – “Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012”

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Title:
– Former Attorney General Nicola Roxon and her …
– Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 –
| Author: EYE-BALL Opinion | 6th Feb 2013 |

Astory published overnight by The Australian’s Janet Albrechtsen captures the mood of the electorate’s response to the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012.

Albrechtsen’s article is re-published below:

People power defeated Roxon’s radical agenda


| Author: Janet Albrechtsen | Date: Feb 6th, 2013 | Link to On-Line Story. |

Image caption: Illustration: Eric Lobbecke Source: The Australian

LESS than two years in the job, the former federal attorney-general will leave parliament with a swan song that is hard to beat. Not only did Nicola Roxon prove to be Australia’s most radical attorney-general with draft anti-discrimination laws that sought to render illegal opinions that were offensive and insulting. But her reluctant decision to scrap these provisions after a community backlash provides the perfect lesson in the power of ideas.

Indeed, Roxon’s humiliating backdown should be a textbook example of why free speech matters: her decision to pursue “other options” proves what can happen when ideas and opinions are thrashed around freely and robustly. Dumb ideas tend to get exposed as dumb. And sensible ideas are allowed to flourish.

Importantly, demolishing silly ideas such as Roxon’s nanny-state vision to render offensive opinions illegal can happen only when the machinery of free speech is kept clean of the grit and grime of politically correct laws that would otherwise inhibit the free flow of ideas.

That’s why free speech sits at the heart of liberty. Not just because we like the freedom to say whatever we want, though that is surely part of living in a healthy liberal democracy. No, the best reason to staunchly defend free speech is because it is the true gem of Western civilisation. Without it, other freedoms will not last for long.
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If it is true that 12 months ago, barely months into her dream job as attorney-general, Roxon told the Prime Minister that she intended to leave parliament, then Roxon also must have intended that her human rights and anti-discrimination bill would be her parting gift to the nation. Happily, Roxon will leave parliament with a clear message Australians declined her illiberal gift.

So take a bow, people. As politicians gather for federal parliament, remember that people power defeated Roxon. Not just the power of ticking a ballot box. Roxon’s radical and illiberal intention to undermine free speech in this country was exposed by people raising their voices between elections. There were no nutty activists carrying out stunts. Just ordinary people raising sensible arguments.

There were the big names. Former High Court judge Ian Callinan and ABC chairman Jim Spigelman helped the cause of freedom with their wise words of caution about Roxon’s bill. Business leaders, religious leaders, even some human rights leaders also help to expose problems. Media groups (that included News Limited) united to make a rare joint submission to the Senate inquiry into the draft human rights and anti-discrimination bill. In fact, more than 3000 submissions were made to the Senate inquiry. While not all opposed the bill, the reaction was a tribute to free speech.

When tested against rational arguments, Roxon’s agenda failed. Take a bow, too, the staff, headed by John Roskam, at the Institute of Public Affairs and the IPA’s paying members who ran Freedomwatch – a campaign that garnered rational, passionate, liberty-based arguments against Roxon’s bill.

Take a bow, too, the letter writers who reminded politicians of all hues that free speech is not a political plaything. Thank you to those who added some spine into the opposition’s objections. Congratulations to those who did not fall for Roxon’s ruse that the exposure draft was merely meant to “simplify and consolidate many laws into one”. Well done to the constituents whose emails to Tony Windsor finally led the independent to say he too had concerns, although not without wondering aloud whether the whole matter was stirred by “some radio shock jock”.

Windsor’s late and politically convenient arrival at the free-speech party raises the point that not all people should take an equal bow. For example, there was a disappointing lack of curiosity among many journalists at our national broadcaster. Who can recall a senior ABC journalist discussing in any detail the serious ramifications of Roxon’s bill? Other issues attract plenty of inquiring passion at Aunty – climate change, gay marriage, refugees and the Catholic Church, to mention just a few.

After a quick ABC news report about the release of Roxon’s bill on November 20 last year there has been an intellectual wasteland at Aunty when it came to Roxon’s bill. Curiously, the day Roxon was in Sydney to promote her anti-discrimination bill, she appeared on the ABC’s premier political program 7.30. Yet host Leigh Sales devoted every question to the royal commission into child abuse. Free speech didn’t get a look-in.

The ABC picked up the free speech story only when a member of the Left’s favoured human rights industry, Gillian Triggs at the Human Rights Commission, conceded that the laws might have “gone too far”. Business concerns? Ignored. Church concerns? Disregarded. Voters’ concerns? Forget it.

It was a similar story at Fairfax, where only the usual loyal protectors of liberty exposed Roxon’s draft law as an affront to free speech – stand up Paul Sheehan at The Sydney Morning Herald and the IPA’s Chris Berg writing in The Age. While a few SMH editorials fought for freedom, there was barely a whisper of interest among journalists for whom free speech is, after all, a professional necessity.

Lest we lovers of liberty get complacent, Roxon’s assault on free speech has not been completely defeated. There is, for example, still the matter of the bill making a mockery of the presumption of innocence and the burden of proof.

Last week, Labor’s Communications Minister Stephen Conroy and chief government whip Joel Fitzgibbon passionately defended the presumption of innocence when Craig Thomson was arrested for fraud. They should cast their eyes over Roxon’s bill. It effectively assumes guilt and requires a defendant to prove their innocence.

Roxon’s bill contains many other problems that must be addressed by the new Attorney-General. But will he? Before becoming A-G, Mark Dreyfus helped feed the misconception that Roxon’s bill was a harmless consolidation that did not extend the reach on anti-discrimination laws. Will Dreyfus come clean and credibly defend free speech?

As Roxon prepares to leave parliament at the next election, she will go down in history as the attorney-general who tried to undermine our most basic liberty and the embodiment of the new Left. Whereas once the faces and voices of the Left tended to be as rough and tough as they were radical, Roxon’s demure demeanour cleverly hides an agenda more radical than anything tried on the Australian legal system. And her ultimate backdown just days before announcing her retirement from politics is a reminder that this kind of creeping, illiberal paternalism, no matter how dulcet the tone of delivery, will be defeated only when people are able to argue and object freely and openly.

I don’t believe  Roxon is smart enough to initiate legislation like this, I believe she was acting under instruction.

For some time now Gillard has been given a hard time by bloggers all across the land.  It all started in earnest in Nov’ 2011 when Mike Smith, and Glenn Milne were in the headlines over the AWU story that was pulled.

Many other bloggers joined the ‘free speech’ campaign over the PM’s blackmail of both News and Fairfax to have the AWU story pulled.   These ‘bloggers’ took up the challenge to further expose Gillard and use their following to tell a truth backed up by documentary and affidavit testimony that gave creditable to Gillard’s involvement.

Hedley Thomas, media scribe for The Australian is about the only mainstream journalist that has believed and chased down this story – he came on board mid 2012.

The crux of the matter is although Gillard has given two press conferences where she states she has answered all questions.  Those Press conferences  were ‘sprung’ on the Canberra press gallery and only ‘friendly’ journalist’s were given a ‘heads-up’.   In fact there is talk that Gillard’s media office fed the questions she wanted asked to selected journalists.

Hedley Thomas has repeatedly asked to interview Gillard on the AWU scandal.  He has sent her formal requests to answer questions asking for a response and Gillard continues to refuse a response.

During Gillard’s her first marathon press conference in August 2012, she referred by name to Larry Pickering when speaking about the malice commentary being made.  Gillard further make a comment about – ‘misogynist, sexist, nut-jobs  when describing the ‘blog-land’ portrayal of herself.   I believe she was offended by Pickering’s cartoons portraying Gillard as wearing a monster black dildo – I believe is was these images that festered within Gillard when she went to bed giving reason for Gillard to instigate new laws to limit free speech, and free expression … namely clause 19(2) of the new legislation which states:

link to full text of Draft Bill …

Chapter 2 – Unlawful conduct and equality before the law

Part 2-2 – Unlawful discrimination

Division 2 – Meaning of discrimination

Section 19

Division 2 —Meaning 1 of discrimination

19 – When a person discriminates against another person, and related concepts

Discrimination by unfavourable treatment

(1) A person (the first person) discriminates against another person if the first person treats, or proposes to treat, the other person unfavourably because the other person has a particular protected attribute, or a particular combination of 2 or more protected attributes.

Note: This subsection has effect subject to section 21.

(2) To avoid doubt, unfavourable treatment of the other person includes (but is not limited to) the following:
              (a) harassing the other person;
         (b) other conduct that offends, insults or intimidates the other person.

The intent of this highlighted clause above has far reaching impact if made law – in fact some 3,000 submissions were received in response to the release of the draft legislation.

Earlier this week the Senate sat to hear the Government’s case for the Bill – see link here to watch recorded APH video feed of the first day of the hearings.  It is boring stuff but nonetheless, it is how our legislative process works.

The above story by Janet Albrechtsen summarises the current thinking of the new AG about the proposed legislation – and the mood of the Senate in how they are considering the draft legislation.   In other words the fight is not yet won.

One would not have to be too clever to draw a straight line from Gillard to Roxon to conclude who is behind this legislation.   Gillard’s hands are all over the motivation  and if Roxon had indeed signaled her intention to leave some 12 months ago – timing, and reason to stay as long as she has is verified in the events that have unfolded in recent days.

The media are not prepared to speculate – but they would have a grasp of what is happening.  They have to be braver and go after the evidence and find the  disgruntled source prepared to tell the story behind the story as to who was behind the new legislation and its real motivation.

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Have your say where it counts: – contact your Local Federal Representative via the links below and let them know how you feel about this, or any other topic that you feel strongly about – or you can just post a comment below and let off some steam.

Links to Australian Parliamentary Website – MP’s


The EYE-BALL Opinion …

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  1. Gerry Hatrick
    February 7, 2013 at 12:07 pm

    Janet Albrechtsen is known for her rather right wing views. Nicola Roxon has been known to express opinions which could well impinge on general standards of decency, approaching moderating or breaching human rights.

    Free speech is a strange thing. It is to be tempered with the concept of civility which would include don’t slander or vilify. Vilification of groups by sex, race, religion or caste is what we consider discrimination. Politics is different. Where there is no known or demonstrable science, there is diversity of view and expression. Religious belief is quite different. A different tangent.

    This is where last years debate on “Misogynist Nut Jobs” was very thought provoking. It started as a very broad even not specific reference to detractors of the PM. If it were person X and Person Y are Misogynist Nut Jobs they would then be entitled to sue the PM for slander unless she could demonstrably evidence it. So in Parliament she did go on to attempt to label the Opposition leader as a misogynist, and she exampled signs like Ditch the Witch or Ditch the Bitch, and rallies meant to invoke hatred. The Opposition Leader at that time should have declined to partake but in the zeal didn’t. There are too many examples of what is considered poor judgement. You can also laugh about the circumstances where she has labelled Abbott a misogynist in defending Peter Slipper.

    In the 1950’s author Frank Hardy was gaoled for criminal slander regarding his novel “power without glory”. Jack West was quite transparently Melbourne character John Wren, as was Nellie West his wife Ellen Wren. So were reference to Keith Murgood (Murdoch) or Red Ted Theodore (Thurgood), and I find the use of the suffix good interesting. As for therefore holding Ellen Wren committed adultery, a salacious affair with the gardener, simply pretty much a stretch. As Wren died in the late 50’s, and therefore he couldn’t apply political pressure, The book is now legendary, been made into an acclaimed mini series for TV and so on.

    This comes to the independence of the judiciary. In Westminster the judiciary is the 4th arm of government, after the executive (Governor General), Upper House (Senate) and Lower House (House of Reps) and then the judiciary. The High Court can rule any act of parliament passed in the lower house, assented to in the Senate, and enacted by the executive as unconstitutional. There in lies the problem. Funding of the Judiciary. If it was self funding, it would not be affordable to the poorest complainants.

    So Attorney Generals will be open to criticism of manipulating the judiciary through financing. Roxon has now stated she has been AG to the appointment of 2 High Court Judges, something she is proud of. In the matter of Ashby v Slipper and Commonwealth, how many hats is she wearing.

    What really scares me about Roxon was when under FOI parliamentary expenses (slipper’s ceremonial garb) were obtained and she claimed that parliamentary expenses should be exempt from FOI. Horror. Is that debasing transparency or what? Thankfully Nicola is now past tense.

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