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

Wards for Alice council, including one for town camps?
Wards for the Alice Springs Town Council are not a new idea but have never been supported by the NT Government.
There was discussion about wards in the mid-1990s, which was firmly rejected by the government.
It was also raised by candidate Steve Strike during the town council election campaign in May 1988. Like Eli Melky’s current proposal, Strike also suggested five wards, each with two aldermen; however, he didn’t overlook the rural area on that occasion over 30 years ago (the other wards suggested were for Eastside, Gillen, Braitling and the Gap Area).
The town’s municipal boundaries were expanded significantly in early 1988, incorporating the whole rural area for the first time despite widespread opposition from affected residents. The idea of a ward system was the final suggestion to differentiate the rural area from the town, after calls for a separate community government and a shire were rejected by the NT Government.
It’s interesting to note that during the operation of the original Alice Springs Progress Association from 1947 to 1960, the town was divided into wards a couple of times for choosing delegates onto the association. The wards were the (now old) Eastside, town centre (now the CBD), the south side of the town, and the Farm Area along what is now Ragonesi Road. The town’s population grew from about 2000 to over 3000 residents during this period, which was long before there was a town council.
One person who represented the south ward from 1958 onwards was Bernie Kilgariff, kickstarting what was to become an illustrious career in NT politics.
Personally I support the concept of wards; for one thing, it would substantially reduce the cost and inconvenience of town council by-elections.
With regard to increasing the number of councillors from eight to 10; well, it’s just over a decade ago the reverse occurred.
Moreover, the ASTC first started off with eight aldermen (plus the mayor) in 1971 until 1977, when the number was increased to 10.
Here we go again?


Move School of the Air to Anzac High building
@ Watch’n (Posted April 15, 2019 at 4:48 am): Remember when the Drive-in was de-listed? To make way for real estate? Wasn’t that a great development.


Gallery fiasco: school heritage process ‘massively flawed’
It’s obvious the majority of voters in Araluen got it right in the last Territory election campaign.


Killerbots, guided by Pine Gap, same as any other weapon?
Humanity is becoming too clever for its own good.


Save Anzac Hill High School: National Trust
@ James T Smerk (Posted March 28, 2019 at 11:48 am): I’ve said it before a number of times, I’ll say it again: The old high school complex on the Anzac Reserve has the richest heritage value of any education campus in the Northern Territory.
Its historical value is very high, and exceeded in Central Australia only by the Alice Springs Telegraph Station, the Hermannsburg Historic Precinct, and Arltunga (which last is actually NOT heritage listed).


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