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

Police gets street parking, cops’ private cars in compound
On the odd occasion I walk past the police station vehicle compound in Bath Street, I recognise some private vehicles that previously were parked in Parsons Street outside the old police station.
I used to see these regularly after finishing work at Woolies and walking home that way late each evening.


Authorities underrated risk to Pine Gap, Alice of a nuclear strike
Just read a comment piece by ABC North American correspondent James Glenday, who notes: “According to the Gun Violence Archive, 9,418 Americans have died from bullet wounds so far this year. 18,785 have been injured.”
To put that in perspective, more people have been killed and injured in the USA by gun violence up to the end of August than there are residents of Alice Springs.
That’s just this year. We think we’ve got problems?


Authorities underrated risk to Pine Gap, Alice of a nuclear strike
I note this book becomes available on September 3, which this year marks the 80th anniversary of the declaration of war by Britain and France (which included Australia) on Nazi Germany following the invasion of Poland that started two days earlier.
In that same month the German Army Weapons Bureau commenced work, and one of its first projects was research into creating a nuclear bomb. German physicist Werner Heisenberg delivered an initial paper on building a workable atom bomb before the year was over.
Albert Einstein, whose equation of E=mc2 lies at the core of nuclear physics, had already warned the US of this research – as did British intelligence – but the warnings were largely ignored until 1941, and the Manhattan Project began shortly after Japan’s attack against Pearl Harbour forced America into the war.
The first nuclear arms race was actually between America and Nazi Germany; the first bombs were intended for Europe but the war ended there before they were ready so ended up being used on Japan.
Meanwhile, the Soviet Union had embarked on its own nuclear weapons research program, which was significantly aided by information obtained by spies from the Manhattan Project – and thus was born the arms race of the Cold War.


Aboriginal flag to fly year round on Anzac Hill
I wonder why everyone seems to insist this issue began 20 years ago? As I pointed out in my article last year (https://www.alicespringsnews.com.au/2018/03/25/in-a-flap-over-flags-a-possible-compromise/) the original request for flying the Aboriginal flag on Anzac Hill was first made in 1989 which by my mathematics is 30 years ago.
It’s also forgotten that the two large flag poles erected in 1989 replaced four smaller ones. These were used to fly the national flag (which flew on the east side of the monument) and the individual armed services flags which overlooked the town. These flags were only flown on Anzac Day and (I think) Remembrance Day but for the remainder of the year there were none.
This issue had its genesis from the protracted political and ideological disputes between the NT Government and the major land councils that dominated Territory politics during the 1980s.


Gallery business case slap in the face of custodians
@ Matthew Langan (Posted August 26, 2019 at 6:44 pm): Not sure which universe you’re living in, Matthew, but of all the places you’ve listed as decisions by “Labor Party big knob socialist flogs” the only one that is an initiative of a Labor government is “the dinosaur museum” which I take to mean Megafauna Central in Todd Street.
All the rest were established during the long rule of the CLP before it ended in 2001.
None of these were ever expected to be profitable in their own right; rather, they are a reflection of a jurisdiction that was anticipated to be affluent enough over time to establish and support such facilities.
That aspiration increasingly appears to be a mirage; and in that sense the “case” put forward to justify the NAAG is a forlorn attempt to flog a now very dead horse.


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