FEDERAL ELECTION – DISTORTION OF RIGHTS HELPED PAULINE HANSON
Source: by Peter Kurti, Research Fellow Centre for Independent Studies. Anglican minister and lawyer.
The rise of Pauline Hanson has been attributed to a growing backlash against a “democratic deficit” in all western societies as human rights are being distorted to favour minorities and silence the mainstream. The growing influence of identity politics, and the distorted application of human rights, is placing whole areas of public debate off-limits through the use of stigma and public shaming. In Australia, those most responsible for distorting human rights have been the Australian Human Rights Commission and publicly funded human rights legal centres. Like many politicians those groups had fallen victim to the rise of “identity politics”, which favoured those who portrayed themselves as victims of oppression by the mainstream.
Regular, voting members of the public are getting weary of political elites telling them how to frame their lives. Pauline Hanson’s reappearance on the national scene after 18 years is, in many ways, an indication of people’s exasperation. “It’s one of the factors behind Malcolm Turnbull’s near-failure at the polls. He has gone too far to the left and failed to address the kind of issues that people feel is important in their daily lives.” Australia is being confronted by “minority fundamentalism” that has all the features of religious fundamentalism: ideological fanaticism, intolerance of dissent and total certainty about truth and falsehood. It says “newly-minted fashionable rights such as the right to equality are threatening to trump every other right with which they might conflict”, particularly freedom of speech and religion.
This tendency had been responsible for the rise of the Safe Schools program that requires children to engage in sexual role playing, the prosecution of journalist Andrew Bolt under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act over articles that offended light-skinned Aborigines, and the attempt by a same-sex marriage activist to prevent Hobart’s Catholic Archbishop Julian Porteous from explaining Catholic doctrine on marriage. Democratic freedoms such as free speech and freedom of religion are being eroded by identity politics under the guise of promoting equality. But, in practice, identity politics, aided by the progressive Left, threatened to foster tyranny by attacking the community’s fundamental freedoms.
The weakening effect of identity politics is that it prioritises equality over freedom and, in doing so, locks people into specific categories at the expense of individual liberty. While the Human Rights Commission and human rights legal centres are supposed to protect all human rights, these groups had let the community down. I call upon the commission to be more responsive to community concerns and stop pandering to what he described as extremists. “We are not a country of extremes – although there are people with extremist views – but I don’t think the commission does itself any good by pandering to extremists by generating an unwanted fear and anxiety.
We have seen, in my view, unfortunate comments from Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane who, in some of his comments, seems to set out to inflame debates about race rather than emphasising the strength and cohesiveness of the Australian community.” In a series of interviews after the federal election, Mr Soutphommasane described Ms Hanson’s politics as repugnant and said Australia had moved on from “the politics of Hansonism”. I believe it was wrong for a publicly-funded commissioner to be “decrying the legitimately elected members of the federal parliament”. “You don’t have to agree with Pauline Hanson – or the Greens for that matter – but if anybody is legitimately elected by the Australian people to take a place in the Australian parliament they deserve that place.
If you don’t want them there we have the right to vote them out. It is not right for publicly-funded human rights commissioners to start sowing dissent and dissatisfaction with the voters’ choice.” I hope the Human Rights Commission would be capable of reforming itself by adopting a more balanced approach to human rights “because the last thing we need is more laws and regulations”.
MANY ABORIGINAL CHILDREN DISADVANTAGED BY HAVING NO BIRTH RECORD
A significant number of Aboriginal children have no record of birth and may face social obstacles later in life, a recent study has revealed. According to a research paper published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, many aboriginal children born in Western Australia between 1980 and 2010 were not registered at birth. The study found that nearly 50,000 births were recorded, but when matched with the birth registry office, 4,628 children under the age of 16 were not registered. Most of these children were born to teenage mothers. “All children by law have the right to be registered immediately after birth” Alison Gibberd, lead author of the study, said of the alarming statistics. “But an unacceptably high number of aboriginal children don’t achieve this right.”
Gibberd explains that parents may fail to recognise the value of birth registration, particularly if they cannot afford a certificate at the time. “Successfully completing the birth registration process requires a reasonable level of literacy and the practical means of returning the completed paperwork,” she added. According to a report by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, these children face social disadvantages growing up. They may experience problems when enrolling in education, finding employment, opening bank accounts, buying property or when trying to obtain a passport. Western Australia is the third largest state for Indigenous Australians, with 88,270 of its population identifying as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander, 2011 census data revealed.
AUSTRALIAN VOTERS OVERWHELMINGLY BACK TURNBULL’S PLEBISCITE POLICY
The Coalition’s plan to hold a plebiscite on same-sex marriage has been backed by a majority of Australian voters. A Fairfax-Ipsos poll of 1377 voters taken just prior to the recent Federal Election showed a thumping 69% of voters backed the idea of having their say on the issue, rather than a parliamentary vote. The plebiscite was engineered by Tony Abbott in 2015 and adopted by Mr Turnbull when he took the leadership. The management of the vote and the potential for Coalition disunity over the issue shapes as a key early test for Mr Turnbull in the newly elected Parliament. Mr Shorten hardened his position in favour of a parliamentary vote during the campaign, promising a Labor government had he been elected would have would legislated the reform as its first priority.
In answering questions at a press conference the Prime Minister however insisted a change to the Marriage Act would “sail through Parliament” later this year, despite being forced to concede Coalition MPs opposed to change will not be bound to support the outcome of the plebiscite. Despite the apparent popularity of voters having their say, Australian Marriage Equality director Marriage Rodney Croome questioned the need for the $160 million plebiscite and warned it could unleash hate towards gay people. “I am hopeful the next Parliament will have a clear majority of members who favour marriage equality making a free vote the obvious way forward,” he told Fairfax Media.
Source: Compiled by APN from Australian media reports