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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Helen Irving on constitutional rights

I'm currently reading the submission made by Professor Helen Irving, of the University of Sydney's Law School, to the National Human Rights Consultation Committee.

This is a well-argued document that displays, as one would expect, a strong grasp of Australian constitutional law. I find much to agree with and much to disagree with, but it's a document that's worthy of examination and respect. It is compatible with my own submission at least to the extent that Professor Irving's arguments against the constitutionalisation of positive economic rights are along similar lines to mine (in my own submission to the Committee), which has not appeared, as yet, on the Committee's website. I also agree with her view that one popular model for reform that is doing the rounds would be unconstitutional in requiring the High Court to give advisory opinions, contrary to the requirements of Chapter III of the Constitution. I've dealt with this in my own submission.

However, the general viewpoint offered is, all in all, far more conservative than my own.

I'll come back to Professor Irving's submission over the next couple of days and make a few comments to elaborate on the above, but meanwhile, without embracing its specific recommendations, I do draw attention to it as a legally-solid and useful contribution to the debate.

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