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Keep socialist blog En Passant going - donate now
If you want to keep a blog that makes the arguments every day against the ravages of capitalism going and keeps alive the flame of democracy and community, make a donation to help cover my costs. And of course keep reading the blog. To donate click here. Keep socialist blog En Passant going. More... (4)

Sprouting sh*t for almost nothing
You can prove my 2 ex-comrades wrong by donating to my blog En Passant at BSB: 062914 Account: 1067 5257, the Commonwealth Bank in Tuggeranong, ACT. More... (12)

My interview Razor Sharp 18 February
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp on Tuesday 18 February. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/18-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-g20-meeting-age-of-enttilement-engineers-attack-of-austerity-hardship-on-civilians.mp3 (0)

My interview Razor Sharp 11 February 2014
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace on Razor Sharp this morning. The Royal Commission, car industry and age of entitlement get a lot of the coverage. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2014/02/11/john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-2/ (0)

Razor Sharp 4 February 2014
Me on 4 February 2014 on Razor Sharp with Sharon Firebrace. http://sharonfirebrace.files.wordpress.com/2014/02/4-2-14-john-passant-aust-national-university-canberra-end-of-the-age-of-entitlement-for-the-needy-but-pandering-to-the-lusts-of-the-greedy.mp3 (0)

Time for a House Un-Australian Activities Committee?
Tony Abbott thinks the Australian Broadcasting Corporation is Un-Australian. I am looking forward to his government setting up the House Un-Australian Activities Committee. (1)

Make Gina Rinehart work for her dole
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Sick kids and paying upfront

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Save Medicare

Demonstrate in defence of Medicare at Sydney Town Hall 1 pm Saturday 4 January (0)

Me on Razor Sharp this morning
Me interviewed by Sharon Firebrace this morning for Razor Sharp. It happens every Tuesday. http://sharonfirebrace.com/2013/12/03/john-passant-australian-national-university-8/ (0)

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George Brandis and his freedom commissars

George Brandis is going to appoint one or two new Human Rights Commissioners. They will be Freedom Commissioners. Here’s how Chris Merritt in The Australian reports it:

At least one “freedom commissioner” will be appointed next year to protect traditional rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion that Senator Brandis said had suffered from past neglect.

‘The classic liberal democratic rights that in my view are the fundamental human rights have been almost pushed to the edge of the debate,’ he said.

‘It is a very important part of my agenda to re-centre that debate so that when people talk about rights, they talk about the great liberal democratic rights of freedom of expression, freedom of association, freedom of worship and freedom of the press.’

These are the sorts of freedoms the Commissioners will push.  But there is much more to this than some feelgood slogan about supporting freedom.

Take racial vilification. One of the first acts of Brandis as Attorney General (apart from repaying $1300 of public money for attending a shock jock mate’s wedding) will be to amend or even repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act.  Subsection 18 (1) says:

It is unlawful for a person to do an act, otherwise than in private, if:

(a)  the act is reasonably likely, in all the circumstances, to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people; and

(b)  the act is done because of the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of the other person or of some or all of the people in the group.

At this stage it looks as if the amendment will mean that offensive or insulting speech will not be defined as racial vilification. The alternative Brandis is evidently considering is to repel the whole provision.

This is the provision Andrew Bolt was successfully prosecuted under when articles he wrote, according to Tim Callanan at ABC News, ‘questioned the motives of light or white-skinned people who identified themselves as Aboriginal, implying they did so for personal gain.’

Brandis’s ‘Bolt’ amendment will make it OK for racists to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate another person or a group of people because of their race, colour or national or ethnic origin.’  In other words their freedom to racially offend, insult and humiliate overrides the right of their victims to freedom from such intimidation.

Having created a society in which verbal racial abuse is state sanctioned under the disguise of freedom, physical racial abuse will and does increase.

Jewish leaders have warned that the amendments will ‘give succour to racists.’

You can expect an increase in attacks on Jews, black skinned people and Muslims, especially with this and the previous Labor government attacking refugees and demonising these others.

What about freedom of association, one of the freedoms Brandis specifically mentions? In Queensland right at this moment the Liberal National Party government has criminalised 26 bikie clubs. Their crime is not something they have done but membership of a bikie club. No trial, no evidence, no jury. Just a politician deeming people who choose to mix together to be members of unlawful associations.

By the way the laws just don’t cover bikies. They can apply to any association. How long before unions and socialist groups are prosecuted?

These Queensland laws (which other States have also tried to use in various forms) are clearly draconian and an attack on the freedom of association that Brandis professes he loves. Yet Brandis supports the Queensland Unlawful Associations Act to the hilt. Evidently his love of freedom is limited.

So too when it comes to refugees. Both Labor and Liberal governments have attacked them viciously. Yet their right to claim asylum is recognised universally, including in name by Australia. Indeed it is enshrined in UN declarations which Australia has ratified.

Instead of recognising this right Australia blackbirds asylum seekers to concentration camps on Nauru and Manus Island.

You’d think a classic liberal would support the right of gays and lesbians to marry? Nah, Brandis was straight off to the High Court for an expedited hearing on the ACT’s same sex laws, the timing of which may thwart any marriages for months.

A classic liberal? More like a reactionary using the language of liberalism selectively.

What Brandis wants is the freedom to further scapegoat, to vilify and demonise to distract workers from the real issue – the crises of capitalism.

Which leads to another freedom – the right to strike. There has never been a right to strike in Australia. Workers have often just walked of the job illegally. The most famous example is the Clarrie O’Shea set of rolling general strikes which freed the jailed Tramways union leader from jail after five days for the heinous crime of not paying fines imposed on his union for strikes.

Today strikes in Australia are illegal except during a bargaining period, i.e. when a new enterprise agreement is being negotiated. This is normally only for a few months at most in 3 or 4 years.

Even then there has to be a postal ballot on what action is to be taken passed not only by a majority of voting members but  a majority of members.  The days of mass meetings to determine the will to strike of the membership are gone.

Will Brandis be championing the unfettered right to strike? Of course not. It would undermine the freedom of the ruling class to exploit us.

To make sense of the zeal of George Brandis for certain types of freedoms we need to judge them through the prism of class. Brandis’s freedoms will directly or indirectly assist the ruling class in its ongoing campaign to justify itself and reinforce its barbaric and exploitative rule. His proposed freedom commissars will strengthen the dictatorship of capital.

To comment or see what others are saying hit the comments link under the heading. Like all posts on this blog comments close after 7 days.

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Comments

Pingback from George Brandis and his freedom commissars | OzHouse
Time November 10, 2013 at 8:11 pm

[…] Nov 10 2013 by admin […]

Comment from Grafix
Time November 11, 2013 at 2:58 am

You wrote: “By the way the laws just don’t cover bikies. They can apply to any association. How long before unions and socialist groups are prosecuted?”

This is a breathtakingly mendacious distortion of the facts. Already several cases have tested the new bikie laws in Qld and the pivotal point of law in every one has been that the Prosecution failed to satisfy the Magistrate in each case that each of the accused belonged to a bike gang. As a consequence none of the new laws became applicable and cannot and are not applicable to anyone who cannot be properly shown and proven to be a member of a bikie gang.

For these laws to affect anyone else, separate legislation would need to be introduced to Parliament and passed. We do not live under some despotic rogue autocratic regime here. We do have two Opposition parties + independents also sitting in the House on the Hill to protect our rights from the big bogey conservative think tank. Talk about alarmist hyperventilating histrionics.

Why must the socialist lap dogs always resort to a mendacious sophistry, a reconstruction of the truth if they have no argument? What is wrong with saying that is OK, there is no argument against it or just shutting up when there is none, rather than resorting to falsehoods?

Comment from lance
Time November 11, 2013 at 6:20 am

Andrew Bolt (whom the AG Brandis is coddling ) was dealt with in the supreme court for sloppy untruthful ill- informed research data that offended a group of indigenous Australians
seemingly –for the sake of merely offending —a group of indigenous Australians
when Bolt was caught out after failing miserably on being questioned on the intent of he’s hurtful ill- informed researched opinion piece
Bolt was summonsed to court to explain the hate speech content of the origional
written opinion piece —and failed spectacularly
right down to where the judge commented -that bolt’s article through it’s sloppy research and misinformation stepped over a line of free speech and boarded on the line of defamation
Brandis in his attempt to help out a murdoch shock jock has obviously not
taken into account the wise musings of the judges summing up comments pertaining to the Bolt trial which in all account dealt thoughoughly with the free speech component of the hurtful Bolt opinion piece

Comment from John
Time November 11, 2013 at 7:51 am

Hereis what Amnesty International says:

Broad laws cover all associations not just bikies

“One of the major issues we have is the language of the Act is so broad that in Amnesty International’s experience, they are open to abuse,” said Hayworth.

The laws focus on associations of people which include corporations, unincorporated associations, clubs or leagues or any other group of three or more people whether the group is legal or illegal.

Covering more than just ‘bikie gangs’ the laws define people as ‘participants’ in associations where they are a member, sought to be a member, attended more than one meeting or participated in any other way in the affairs of the association.

There is no mention of bikes or criminal activity in the definition of association.

A participant is deemed to be a ‘vicious lawless associate’ when they commit a declared offence while they are participating in the association.

The laws reverse the burden of proof, forcing those accused of being ‘vicious lawless associates’ or ‘office bearers’ of the association to prove that they are not participants in criminal associations. This severely undermines the right to be presumed innocent until proven guilty that all Queenslanders enjoy.

Michael Hayworth, Amnesty International Australia spokesperson

The difference here is that the individual must prove that the association doesn’t exist for the purposes of engaging in declared criminal offences.

A ‘vicious lawless associate’ is then sentenced to 15 years jail on top of the sentence they receive for the declared offence.

If the person is an officer of the association and cannot prove otherwise they are liable to a further ten years.

So police attack a demo and the protesters resist. The laws will apply to any member of a political organisation on the protest. Police break up a picket line. the laws will apply to the union and its members.

Comment from John
Time November 11, 2013 at 11:12 am

And here is what barrister Anna Cappellano writes in part
‘Contrary to the political spin, the extensive mandatory detention powers in the VLAD Act are not limited in any way to alleged “criminal bikie gangs”. You do not have to be a member or associate of one of the 26 motorcycle clubs which have now been declared as criminal organisations to be classed as a vicious lawless associate. The declaration of these 26 clubs as criminal organisations and the resulting new criminal offences and increased penalties for their participants (such as the prohibition on 3 or more alleged bikies being together in a public place, an offence for which a person must now spend at least 6 months in custody if convicted) are part of a separate legislation scheme contained in the Criminal Law (Criminal Organisations Disruption) Amendment Act (“CLCOD”). The ambit of the VLAD is in no way limited to members or associates of these clubs.’

You can read the full piece here. http://www.guestlawyers.com.au/index.php/blog/are-you-a-vicious-lawless-associate.html