John Howard: ‘Bill of Rights to destroy democracy’
Thursday August 27th 2009, 11:46 am

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:

Death knell for democracy

Former PM John Howard says a bill of rights would erode Australia’s democracy.

The ABC joins in:

Rights charter the triumph of elitism: Howard

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.


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FYI, in May 2009 the Menzies Research Centre (a Tory thinktank) published ‘Donít Leave Us with the Bill: The Case Against an Australian Bill of Rights’. It was edited by Julian Leeser and Ryan Haddrick. HoWARd contributed the essay ‘Donít Risk What We Have’. Leeser is apparently one of the candidates for Brendan Nelson’s seat. (Btw, did you know that Nelson is a DOCTOR?)

Comment by @ndy 08.27.09 @ 5:11 pm

Yep. I’ve always thought that Brendo should have stuck with his first career choice.

Comment by weez 08.27.09 @ 5:19 pm

Howard ‘fear-mongering’ on bill of rights

“We need to remember that it was under the Howard government that so many of the human rights of this country and our reputation internationally for respecting human rights were eroded,” [Amnesty International’s Jenny Leong] told ABC News Online.

Comment by weez 08.27.09 @ 7:29 pm

I have to share this -Australia complicit in violating UN embargo:

“28 Aug 2009 22:38:46 GMT
Source: Reuters
* Arms included rocket launchers, detonators, RPGs
* Seizure of shipment took place on Aug. 14
* Countries linked include Australia, France, Italy, China
(Adds details about weapons, countries involved)
By Louis Charbonneau
UNITED NATIONS, Aug 28 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates has seized a cargo of North Korean weapons being shipped to Iran, which would have violated a U.N. embargo on arms exports from the communist state, Western diplomats said on Friday.
The weapons seized on Aug. 14 included rocket launchers, detonators, munitions and ammunition for rocket-propelled grenades, they said. The ship, called the ANL-Australia, was Australian-owned and flying a Bahamas flag.
Diplomats said the UAE reported the incident, which occurred two weeks ago, to the Security Council sanctions committee on North Korea. The committee sent letters to Tehran and Pyongyang on Aug. 25 informing them of the seizure and demanding a response within 15 days.
“Based on past experience … we don’t expect a very detailed response,” one of the diplomats said on condition of anonymity.

Comment by bwca brownie 08.29.09 @ 10:04 pm

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