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Brendan O’Neill: Abolish Australian Human Rights Commission

Brendan O'Neill in Australia defending free speech

UK writer and activist, Brendan O’Neil, editor of Spiked Online, in The Australian:

IMAGINE if there were a women’s rights organisation that said women should stay in the kitchen and leave the world of work to men.

Or a gay rights group that argued homosexuality was sinful. We would think that was weird, right?

Well, it is no more weird than having a human rights commission that has devoted itself not to the expansion of freedom but to the strangling of it, to the straitjacketing of liberty in the name of protecting people from offence and defending public morals.

Australia’s Human Rights Commission must be one of the worst cases of Orwellian doublespeak in the modern world.

… this vast bureaucratic outfit that is funded by government to the tune of $25 million a year does far more to thwart freedom than it does to promote it.

… Without the freedom to speak our minds, publish our ideas and hawk our ideologies, everything from the right to vote to artistic rights becomes meaningless, ­impossible even.

… in the debate about section 18C, in this key ideological clash over whether the state should have the authority to tell individuals what they can think and say, most of the HRC has come down on the side of the state control rather than the individual liberty.

via Abolish the Human Rights Commission, and return us to the Enlightenment’s positive values | The Australian.


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  1. Wait a minute… if Tim Wilson is Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner, something’s the matter with O’Neill’s view here. Prodos, you just linked to Australia’s Human Rights Commissioner’s blog post here: and he clearly is against 18C from the views in that post.

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  2. To clarify …

    Tim Wilson is actually one of the 7 Commissioners of the Australian Human Rights Commission.

    His formal title is “Human Rights Commissioner”, which suggests a broad jurisdiction.

    The other 6 Commissioners, by formal title, are more specialised:

    Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner
    Mr Mick Gooda

    Age Discrimination Commissioner
    The Hon Susan Ryan AO

    Children’s Commissioner
    Ms Megan Mitchell

    Disability Discrimination Commissioner
    Mr Graeme Innes AM

    Race Discrimination Commissioner
    Dr Tim Soutphommasane

    Sex Discrimination Commissioner
    Ms Elizabeth Broderick

    The formally titled “Human Rights Commissioner” is not, as far as I know, senior to the other Commissioners.

    All the Commissioners — including Tim Wilson — work under the President of the HRC, Professor Gillian Triggs.

    Barboo writes: “…. something’s the matter with O’Neill’s view here …”

    Well, Section 18C is the current law.

    Even if Tim Wilson believes 18C should be repealed or reformed and even if he gives speeches arguing for this, he has no power to change the law. Only the Parliament can do that. And there’s still a lot of work to be done to make that happen.

    Hope the above helps to clarify some of the quandry. :-)

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