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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).

Thursday, June 04, 2009

New discussion site for the National Human Rights Consultation

Australian readers who are following the National Human Rights Consultation process might be interested to visit this forum. So far, it hasn't generated much discussion, though there's been some interesting debate about the fact that the Consultation Committee is headed up by a Catholic priest, Father Frank Brennan, and about the submissions by religious organisations that are keen to get involved in the debate a possible bill or charter of rights.

As usual there are some very, um, odd people expressing views: it's always an eye-opener for me to see what views get put by individuals and organisations that are way outside the mainstream of political or academic opinion.

I've raised one of the issues that I discussed briefly in my submission to the consultation: the prospect that a non-binding charter of rights, with a power to the courts to advice parliament of breaches of the charter, would be unconstitutional. It will be interesting to see what replies I receive, since a couple of high-ranking academics are officially participating, one of them Professor George Williams, who favours this model. So far, nothing has convinced me that the model can be tailored in a way that is consitutional but I'm open to argument.

This is a relatively esoteric issue ... though of enormous practical importance, since it could potentially lead to the legal outcomes of the exercise being thrown out by the courts. In any event, I continue to encourage all Australian readers to find ways to submit their views to the Committee, either via the discussion site or as formal submissions. Whether your views agree with mine or not, it's important that all views be put. Of course, if you want to defend freedom of speech and other fundamental liberties I encourage you even more strongly.

It's a very quiet forum so far; it could really do with some more traffic, and with a whole lot of intelligent traffic to make it worthwhile. Given how slow it is at the moment, you can be sure that your voice will be heard, so I'm giving you the tip to go there and have a say.

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