The “right to freedom of speech”, along with many other …

Comment on Do you lose more than freedom when you are sent to gaol? by Alex Nelson.

The “right to freedom of speech”, along with many other “rights” we take for granted, do not exist under Australian law – there are certainly no such guarantees stipulated by The Australian Constitution.
There is no Bill of Rights in Australia, unlike many other Western countries. From time to time this matter comes to public attention in Australia but is inevitably pooh-poohed by politicians and (notably) the Murdoch media empire.
The NSW Council for Civil Liberties summarises this succinctly: “Even though Australia has signed all five international treaties that make up the the International Bill of Human Rights, none of these treaties are legally binding in Australia. Nor is there is a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution. This means that the fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone living in Australia are not protected by the law” (see http://www.nswccl.org.au/issues/bill_of_rights/australia.php).
This is an issue that the internationally acclaimed Australian human rights lawyer Geoffrey Robertson has written extensively about (for example, see http://www.smh.com.au/national/statute-of-liberty-20090227-8k97.html).
As Mr Robertson states: “Rights not capable of legal enforcement are not rights at all, but empty promises”.
Mr Robertson points out that a provision for Australians to be “treated fairly” to be included in The Australian Constitution in 1901 “was rejected for fear it might allow Chinese immigrants entry into the country”. Hmm, I wonder how relevant that “fear” is now in light of our heavy reliance upon China for the maintenance of our national economy and comfortable living standards?
An interesting historical angle is provided by Professor John Kilcullen of Macquarie University: “James Madison, who wrote the US Bill of Rights, had earlier been opposed to the inclusion of any Bill of Rights in the Constitution. His reasons for not wanting it are also the reasons usually given by opponents of the inclusion of a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution” (http://www.mq.edu.au/about_us/faculties_and_departments/faculty_of_arts/mhpir/politics_and_international_relations/staff/john_kilcullen/an_australian_bill_of_rights/).
All of which goes to show that the jail authorities in the Northern Territory are – ironically enough – operating entirely within their rights!

Recent Comments by Alex Nelson

From mud, dust to grass: The beginning of Anzac Oval
@ Dr Ongo (Posted February 14, 2019 at 8:08 pm): You raise an interesting point; however, your observation applies equally well to other listed heritage sites, eg. such places as the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, Alice Springs Heritage Precinct (including Stuart Park, old hospital, old Alice Springs Gaol, and several houses in Hartley and Bath streets), and the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct.
There are histories, stories or law applicable to all of these places since time immemorial but other than to acknowledge previous Aboriginal occupation or use of such sites, I’m not qualified or knowledgeable enough to comment about them.
In regard to “untyeye that once grew there” at the Anzac Oval site (referring to corkwood trees – Hakea divaricata), only one still survives just inside the boundary near the Senior Citizens Club. It’s the same tree on the right of the photo, framing the new school, taken by Prue Crouch’s father in the early 1950s.
The heritage statement for the nomination of Anzac Oval does state: “The Anzac Oval Precinct contains several sacred sites.”
Thanks for your comment.

 

Corkwood


Home owner bonus: New build sector bleak, says CLP
The situation generally in the Northern Territory is giving every indication that it’s rapidly spiralling out of control.
I suspect the NT Government’s reactions are too little, too late; and this latest scheme will likely end up being home owner bogus rather than bonus.


West Macs fire mitigation critically inadequate: Scientist
Such a shame, Steve, that we’re unable to harness your sprays to put the wildfires out.


Government fails to protect major tourism asset
My recollection is that the major wildfire years in the earliest period of this century were 2002-03, and again in 2011. Both of those periods closely followed years of exceptionally high rainfall (2000-01 and 2010 respectively).
This isn’t unusual in itself – there were significant wildfire years in 1968 (following the breaking of the drought in 1966) and in 1975 (following 1973-4, the wettest period on record in Alice Springs).
What’s different now is that this major wildfire event has occurred after a very dry year, with a record set at Alice Springs in 2018 for the longest period without rain being recorded, although (as I recall) this wasn’t the case further west of town.
In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to travel west and east of Alice Springs a number of times and also to fly frequently to Darwin and back with clear views of the area around town.
The clear impression I’ve gained on every trip is the extent and dominance of the spread of buffel grass in the ranges.
It’s like a blanket hugging the ground as far as the eye can see. It’s spread is overwhelming, and the ecology of this region is forever changed.
There are often comments about the need for protecting Alice Springs from major floods but that’s the least of our worries.
It is major wildfire that poses the most serious risk to our town, and the recent disaster in the West Macs demonstrates this risk can occur at any time.


Don’t mess with our treasures, says Alice
@ Gavin Carpenter (Posted February 6, 2019 at 4:25 pm): Not the case, Gavin, the original structure overall is in remarkably good order, even down to one of the old projectors still existing on site inside the front entrance.
Neither is it the case that management or maintenance of other heritage-listed sites is too difficult or complicated “and eventually fall down anyway”.
Suggest you contact the chairman of the Heritage Council, Wayne Kraft, for a full explanation.


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