Saturday, 29 December 2012

IPA : Anti-Discrimination Bill

There has been some worrying comment about the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill that the Federal Gillard Labor government wishes bring into effect. A series of articles in The Australian newspaper and elsewhere has given a number of reasons to be concerned.
Today the Institute of Public Affairs has released its submission to the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs Legislation Committee. Printed below is the Executive Summary from IPA’s submission. To read the entire submission go to the following web address 

The exposure draft of the Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 [“the draft Bill”] represents a dramatic and radical attack on Australians’ fundamental freedoms under the guise of reforming anti-discrimination law.
The draft Bill makes government the arbiter of behaviour within a substantial range of private political and personal activities. The draft Bill would politicise and regulate private interpersonal relationships in a way they never have been in Australia.
In a very real sense, these laws are not anti-discrimination laws. They are laws designed to give the government authority over our lives in completely new and unjustifiable arenas. This is an excessive and indefensible increase in state power.
The proposed laws give the government explicit power to interfere in almost all facets of human interaction including eighteen areas of public and private life, such as political opinion, religion and social origin. The government is also required to decide what falls into these categories, making the state the total and final arbiter on our most fundamental liberties.
By redefining discrimination to be anything which “offends, insults or humiliates” the proposed law will extend the infamous provisions of the Racial Discrimination Act that led to the Andrew Bolt case to almost every area of public and private life. By expanding the grounds on which people can claim to be discriminated against to include areas such as “political opinion” the law will stifle genuine discussion on almost every topic for fear of legal consequences.
This draft Bill has deservedly been criticised from across the political spectrum as a massive overreach and an unjustified curtailment of individual freedoms.
Democratic governments rely on the free exchange of opinion for their legitimacy. This draft Bill, if enacted, would dramatically limit freedom of speech in Australia.
This submission also raises other concerning elements of the draft Bill. The draft Bill substantially reverses the burden of proof onto the defendant. It introduces a large amount of uncertainty and ambiguity into anti-discrimination law.
The draft Bill introduces a subjective test for decisions about whether the law has been breached. Subjective tests are impossible to comply with and should never be used by the courts.

There is no justification for such a dramatic overhaul of anti-discrimination law, and no place for such extraordinary limits on freedom of speech.


  1. We have almost reached the point where by stealth we are being taken down the pathway to communism.
    Right up until Gillard was appointed Prime Minister (after stabbing the non communist Rudd in the back) she was still actively participating in the Communist Party (now under the more innocuous name "Socialist Forum")
    Same dog, different name.
    Gillard has been taking us down this path by stealth and now is within sight of having Australia declared a "Communist State".
    Her lies and deceit have all been perpetrated solely to achieve this objective.
    This is not "conspiracy theory" but cold hard fact but because it was done so sneakily many people still cannot see what is happening.
    Many of our Democratic and Constitutional rights have already been removed. A fine example of this is the fact that Beattie created a completely new "Constitution" for Queensland in 2001 which he refused to put to a Referendum of the People for acceptance or rejection.
    This has become the basis for the seizing of private properties and actions against the people, the removal of many Laws and rights and the sale of Public assets because under that "Constitution" the Government vested the entire state of Queensland in themselves.
    This is evidenced in the fact that the Govt cancelled every freehold title deed in the State and replaced them with a "Register" of land holders (as opposed to land owners)
    Unless we fight back right now, 2013 could well see the end of Democracy as we have known it since Federation.
    I still have the letter from the Federal Govt confirming that the Australian Constitution does not mention, recognise or allow Political parties.
    The original intent was that we should elect individuals who would be answerable only to the people and the leader of the Parliament should be elected by a majority of those Elected Members (not a party as is now the case).
    The Political Parties have hijacked our Constitutional rights and are now hell bent on handing control to foreign interests to the detriment of our God given Constitutional and Democratic rights.
    A very large percentage of Members are now from other countries. Perhaps we should have a provision that the Prime Minister at least be born in Australia the same as a person not born in America cannot become President. Alternatively we should be allowed Citizens Initiated Referendum to protect our rights.

  2. Here is another gem that promises to destroy our rights.

    Taboo topics will rise in an era of intense legal action by:
    From: The Australian December 29, 2012 12:00AM

    ONE of the most troubling aspects of the federal government's draft Human Rights and Anti-Discrimination Bill 2012 is that someone need only be offended by a contrary point of view in order for the threshold for unlawful discrimination to be met. Should the draft bill become law, public profession of religious belief and discussion of politics at work will be taboo because of their potential to cause offence. Workplace banter will, as a consequence, be discouraged by wary employers.
    In the UK, Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986 uses the related term "insulting" as its threshold for legal action. Not surprisingly, this has turned public life in Britain into a theatre of the bizarre with street preachers thrown into prison for preaching, a man charged with saying woof to a dog, and another summoned for criticising Scientology. A free nation should shudder at these examples.

    Any law that aims to eliminate unlawful discrimination is risible not just because of its grandiosity, but because when legislation incentivises particular behaviours (frivolously claiming harassment/discrimination/vilification), then the frequency of those behaviours will naturally increase. The rise in complaints will then be cited as evidence that the law is working. If the intention is to create more law-breakers, then it is mission accomplished. Logic would dictate that the only way to truly eliminate unlawful discrimination is not to enact discrimination laws in the first place.

    ...Bureaucrats and lawyers will have to find other ways to spend their time, and our money.

  3. There is an aspect that the Beattie Labor government had passed as legislation in Qld that is revelant to this discussion. That is the reversal of the onus of proof as part of the Vegetation Management Act.
    If you go to page 9 of the IPA submission (link above) there is a section on the threat to legal rights. The part on reversal of the onus of proof says in part -
    "The rationale behind this approach to the resolution of legal disputes is to give the person against whom the claim is made the benefit of assumption. In criminal cases, this is called the presumption of innocence. But this assumption should always remain in the context of the civil law also. It is an important legal protection that has been developed through hundreds of years of common law.
    Placing the burden of proof on the person alleging wrongdoing is not only important as a legal tradition; it is also essential as a matter of logic. The fact that it is impossible to produce evidence of something which has not occurred is an irrefutable argument for retaining the presumption of innocence as a fundamental right in any just legal system.
    The government’s draft Bill reverses the burden of proof. The draft Bill creates a system where the accused is guilty until he proves himself to be innocent of wrongdoing. Clause 124 states that in the case of an applicant alleging discrimination and adducing “evidence from which the court could decide, in the absence of any other explanation” that discrimination has occurred the court will assume that discrimination has occurred and it is then for the defendant to prove otherwise."

    Otherwise there is little that I agree with Peter's comment above.

  4. It will be interesting to see where everybody stands on the subject of Christmas and Easter Etc.
    The largest shopping centre in Gladstone has "decorations" in the mall but does not actually wish anybody or mention "Merry Christmas" because it might offend certain people. Christmas must not be mentioned and in not mentioning Christmas I am offended and insulted and discriminated against that there are people in this Country who disapprove of my beliefs.
    The biggest mosque in the country last week issued threats to it's worshipers and gave instructions that Christmas must not be mentioned or in any way acknowledged and christians were not to be wished the compliments of the season. I bet that no action will be taken under the new laws where foreigners express "insults and discrimination" against Australians.
    Will it be illegal for religions from other countries to denigrate and discriminate against the beliefs of this country ( the country that they have chosen over their own to live in)
    This could get very messy and I believe that if this goes ahead, we will end up with a very serious situation because of the rush to create a Socialist Regime by an untrustworthy and dictatorial Government that no longer represents the people as is evidenced by their actions over the past couple of years.
    Obviously our Athiest Prime Minister does not comprehend that christians are offended and discriminated against by her actions to remove our rights to Democracy and free speech. Atheism is offensive to some people as is statements that certain people NOT of a particular religion should be exterminated for not accepting their religion and so it would surely be actionable if somebody felt this way and laid a complaint.

  5. The anti discrimination laws may yet prove unconstitutional according to an article in The Australian.
    "Professor Parkinson and Professor Aroney write in their submission they have "grave doubts" about the constitutionality of parts of the draft.

    "The exposure draft is a very radical and controversial expansion of the scope of commonwealth law, which in some respects may well exceed the commonwealth's constitutional powers," they say.

    "It proposes several very far-reaching changes and extensions to the current reach of commonwealth laws."

    The pair also share fears expressed by others about the extension of the definition of "unfavourable treatment" so it is unlawful to offend and insult."

    Menzies House also has a blog article on the subject.

  6. Great news for severe chronic pain sufferers. Doctors will begin weaning some patients off pain medication if planned changes go ahead. Yet to be released pharmaceutical guidelines which will be presented this year have flagged no longer prescribing some patients with popular pain killing medications some of which can be addictive.

    some patients with non cancer pain would have to be weaned off certain drugs and face being directed to alternative therapies, including YOGA.

    It will dramatically change how pain is treated because some patients will have to be weaned off and will have to do things like physical therapy and focus on what you can do and not what you can't do, more of a positive attitude they claim.

    This means that the use of drugs such as OxyConton, Endone and Fentanyl (used in pain relief patches) will be curtailed and sufferers are likely to have to take up yoga or similar instead. Most of these are prescribed 2 at a time and then you have to go back to the doctor for another prescription. This is to be done as a cost cutting exercise.

    This is going to get very interesting because with or without my pain patch it is impossible for me to get down on the floor and if I fall there is no way that I can get back up without a lot of help.

    There are probably a very small number of Doctors who might prescribe these drugs to people who could manage with other medication but the absolute majority of Doctors do not prescribe these unless it is a last resort and there is no other relief left.

    Looks like the old fogeys are not falling over quickly enough and so they are going to try and kill us off by withholding pain medication in the hope that we will fall over quicker.

    Can't wait for the day when some of these people who make the rules reach old age and finally find out what it is like and what happens to us when we get old and it happens to anybody and everybody no matter who you are or what your social standing or wealth standing is in life. Let's hope that when they reach that stage that they suffer as much as they try and make us suffer.

  7. Good sign even the ABC has come out today reporting the downside of this bill. Tonight on the 7.30 Report there was a debate between government & opposition spokespeople
    Earlier on the day I heard ABC radio news report favourably on a blog written by Chris Berg of the IPA (That would have to be a first)
    It is a good blog article as found on ABC The Drum called, Anti-discrimination laws: an act of confusion

    "But rather than clarifying existing prohibitions, Roxon's department have chosen a brute-force approach - they plan to make everything discrimination. They haven't just consolidated existing law. By mixing harassment and hurt feelings with discrimination they've dramatically expanded it, opening up vast new opportunities for litigation. The draft bill eliminates confusion, sure, but replaces it with chaos.

    Lost in all this is any recognition of the importance of freedom of association.

    Free association is one of our least defended liberties. It is just as much a human right as any protection against discrimination.

    ....We have had anti-discrimination laws for nearly 40 years. They've taken on a life of their own. The Government is now putting more effort into specifying what is permitted, rather than what is prohibited.

    It's hard to think of anything more contrary to the principle of human rights than that."


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