I can count on one hand the number of headlines I’ve read in my lifetime which made me nearly swallow my tongue. Kid you not, I needed a Heimlich manoevre after reading this gem in this morning’s SMH:
Former PM John Howard says a bill of rights would erode Australia’s democracy.
The ABC joins in:
Former prime minister John Howard says the introduction of a bill of rights would represent the final triumph of elitism in Australian politics.
A bill of rights will destroy democracy much like the ill-considered introduction of an atmosphere has caused so many to suffocate.
The Bill of Rights attached to the US Constitution clearly has totally obliterated democracy in that land of oppression, so much so that national constitutions in many countries formed after the United States have emulated its Bill of Rights, in many cases word for word.
US judges, some elected, some not, can order the US government around, under the rule of law. This has had the effect of putting all power in the hands of the President and the Congress, right? No?
John Howard must have a different dictionary than the rest of Australia if he thinks that giving power to the people and constraining government authority, the sole purpose of rights doctrines, is elitist. Mr Howard is entitled to his own opinions but he’s not entitled to his own facts. Elitism is the state of affairs when a few powerful politicians, an actual ‘elite’ group, act in their own self interest over the interest of the people. The extreme right’s bizarro-dictionary apparently disagrees.
Government in western democracies has come a long, long way since Magna Carta, which forced the King of England to obey British Common Law. The Bill of Rights attached to the US Constitution was the next most significant development in democracy, specifically enumerating rights and keeping government in line with the law of the land.
Howard’s assertion that rights doctrines encourage litigiousness is a dirt-common furphy spread by the powerful few. Bills of Rights reduce litigation. When government knows it is constrained, it violates the people’s rights with much greater caution and much less frequency, eliminating the need for quite a lot of litigation.
Self-interested, elitist politicians hate rights doctrines. Makes their job harder. Being a dictatorial autocrat is a cake walk- ask Robert Mugabe. Being a truly representative politician in a liberal democracy is a bit more difficult, but the nature of Australia is slightly different than Mugabe’s Zimbabwe.
Put a sock in it and get back to the bowls club, Johnny. Your time on the stage is done.
4 Comments so far
Leave a comment
Leave a comment