April 1st 2006

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: The lessons of Cyclone Larry

EDITORIAL: Elizabeth and the future of the monarchy

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Beazley - federal Labor's last best hope?

INTERNET: Labor's mandatory filtering pledge

NATIONAL SECURITY: When a search warrant becomes a death warrant

ENERGY: U.S. investors head for ethanol industry

STRAWS IN THE WIND: Emperor's new clothes / Tokenism to vandalism / West Papua - here come the people smugglers / heaven help the working man

CHARTER OF RIGHTS: Sneaking through a radical agenda

VICTORIA: School textbook vilifies Christianity

SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Liberal debacle in SA election

TASMANIA: Greens lose out in Tasmanian poll

AVIAN FLU: China obstructs fight against flu pandemic

OPINION: What is behind the rise of European anti-Semitism?

Not anti-capitalist (letter)

Kernot affair the start of the Democrats' rot (letter)

Forces of evil at work (letter)

Disturbance in the force (letter)

CINEMA: Brokeback Mountain - a case of sour grapes


BOOKS: THE NARNIAN: The Life and Imagination of C.S. Lewis, by Alan Jacobs

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Sneaking through a radical agenda

by Bill Muehlenberg

News Weekly, April 1, 2006
A Victorian Government human rights committee has misleadingly claimed that an overwhelming majority of Victorians are demanding a charter of rights, says Bill Muehlenberg.

The Victorian Human Rights Consultation Committee has recently released its report, Rights, Responsibilities and Respect. This is the outcome of a recent public inquiry into the supposed need for a bill of rights - or a charter of rights - in Victoria.

The committee informs us that it received 2,524 written submissions, and held numerous public inquiries. It claims that, "overall, 84 per cent of the people we talked to or received submissions from ... said that they wanted to see the law changed to better protect their human rights".

This 250-page report lists 35 recommendations, each explained in detail, and concludes with a draft bill to enact into law these recommendations. In short, it fully supports a bill of rights for Victoria.

Concealing their agendas

As someone involved in pro-family activities over the past 15 years in Australia, I have come across many similar reports and discussion papers. They display an amazing similarity. Often they are actually calls for fairly radical social, political and legislative change. But realising that radical change is not easy to achieve, these radical change-agents have become adept at concealing their agendas, and appear to be making just moderate or minor changes.

One way to achieve this is by careful use of language. It is of course a truism nowadays that verbal engineering always precedes social engineering. And, as with all attempts at social engineering, the radical proposals are hidden under "motherhood" statements: words, phrases and ideas that no one would normally object to. Thus all the usual buzz words are found here: human rights, justice, a fair go for all, etc. "What is wrong with that?" most would ask. Indeed, we all believe in human rights.

But it is the underlying agendas that one must be concerned about. The current Victorian Bracks Labor Government in general, and Rob Hulls - the Victorian Attorney-General - in particular, are of course no strangers to radical political and social changes. They have championed all the usual causes, ranging from special rights for homosexuals, to our notorious Racial and Religious Vilification Act. Progressivist politics, in other words, is all the go at our Department of Justice.

That the Department of Justice has already made up its mind is clear throughout this document. For example, in the early pages, it lists a number of reasons why we need a charter or bill of rights. Then it lists some arguments against. For every one of the objections to a charter, the report's authors give a counter-argument. Yet never once do they offer a counter-argument against the reasons why we must have such a charter.

This indicates not only a mind already made up, but an unbalanced and lopsided approach to this issue (so typical of these sorts of "inquiries"). Pros and cons are not treated equally, and any objection is made to look silly and superficial. So much for impartiality in a taxpayer-funded process!

Moreover, as with so many other examples of social engineering, a need was created where there seemed to be none. That is, there was no mass public outcry of ordinary Victorians demanding a charter of rights. Very few were complaining about human rights abuses, except for the obvious activist groups, like the homosexual lobby. So why was there a compulsion to proceed down this path? It is exactly because the various activist minority groups have the ear of the current Government.

Thus a supposed demand for such a charter of rights has been effectively created out of nothing. And now the committee tells us that the overwhelming majority of Victorians want it! In reality, it was just the majority of activists who put in submissions or went to public meetings.

Activist groups initiated and sustained this entire process. Ordinary Victorians would have been blissfully unaware of it. So now the committee smugly claims they have the numbers on their side.

Mantle of moderation

But let's examine the report in more detail. As I mentioned, the attempt to appear moderate and mainstream has become a common tactic recently. Radical-left activists know they cannot win the majority of people over to their radical agendas, so they cloak everything in a mantle of moderation.

Indeed, one of the four committee members is Andrew Gaze, the former basketballer. Now Andrew is best known for being perhaps our greatest basketball player, and seemingly one of the nicest sporting personalities you will ever meet. But one suspects he knows next to nothing about the subject at hand. So why appoint him? Moderation, or the appearance thereof?

Also, consider the title of this report: Rights, Responsibilities and Respect. Certainly sounds moderate. But it appears that the word "responsibility" was just a last minute addition, to placate critics.

How do I know? Because I was one of the critics who warned in my submission that rights without responsibilities lead to big problems. This is what I said: "The enactment of a [Bill of Rights] will further add to the 'rights culture' that is so characteristic of modern Western societies, along with a further erosion of responsibility. Everyone is demanding rights these days, but few are advocating duties and responsibilities, without which rights talk becomes empty blather."

Indeed, the report quotes these very words of mine (p.17). But then it immediately goes on to say: "The committee does not accept this argument."

I didn't think they would. But they claim this charter is about responsibilities as well as rights. However, the only place it is mentioned is in the title and opening paragraphs, otherwise it is not raised at all.


The report says: "Very few organisations opposed change. They include faith-based groups such as the Australian Christian Lobby, Australian Family Association, and the Salt Shakers (Christian Ethics in Action)."

Since I wrote the AFA submission, I am privy to at least a third of these submissions. But the implication here seems to be: "They are faith-based groups, therefore they can be ignored. Only submissions from secular sources really matter."

While being dismissive of submissions from pro-faith and pro-family groups, the report notes that the committee "received a significant number of submissions from members of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and intersex communities". No kidding? Since they would be the main beneficiaries of such a charter, this is not surprising.

When the report notes where public meetings were held, a number of homosexual activist groups are mentioned as places where the committee met. As with the submission process with the Victorian Law Reform Commission (as I have documented elsewhere), the homosexual community was part and parcel of this process from day one.

In addition, it widely quotes from groups like the just-mentioned VLRC, the Melbourne Sexuality Law Reform Committee, the Women's Rights Action Network Australia, the Islamic Council of Victoria and the Uniting Church of Victoria - groups not exactly with a mainstream reputation.

As just one example, the Uniting Church has been involved in all manner of lefty, trendy causes, which is why so many members are leaving the denomination. It clearly does not speak for the majority of Christians in Victoria.

There are many more areas of concern. Just a few can be mentioned. It speaks of the "right to life". Hey, that sounds good - except it says the right to life "from the time of birth". In other words, rights are pretty selective to this group. They do not think the unborn have this most fundamental right to life. So much for human rights.

In its section on rights to equality, it has all the code words for feminist and homosexual activism: "sexual activity", "sexual orientation", and so on. It simply assumes homosexuals and lesbians need to be given special treatment, in the attempt to redress "discrimination" and "intolerance". As with so much of existing equal opportunity and anti-discrimination legislation, this is yet another attempt to complete the march to full social approval and acceptance of the homosexual lifestyle.

The report also talks about a fundamental right to form a family. Fine, as far as it goes. But then it goes on to say that same-sex couples are just as much families as anyone else. The only reason it does not go on to recommend same-sex family status is that it does not want to "pre-empt the results of [the VLRC] process".

This committee and the VLRC are simply blood-brothers here. Both are pursuing the same sorts of agendas. There are of course dozens of these trendy, left-wing activist bodies, all funded by our tax dollars - a very incestuous affair indeed, but an effective one.

Another problem is where the report says that major education campaigns will be needed to implement this Charter of Rights. Education or indoctrination? We are aware of how anti-family and anti-faith propaganda is already used in our schools and elsewhere, as progressive secularist agendas are being promoted.

Once these rights are enshrined in law, the whole weight of the state will be applied to make sure there are no dissenters. Thus, people who object to same-sex marriage may find themselves compelled to attend special education sessions to get their thinking straight, or bent, as is the case. Pro-lifers will be also scorned, as will so many religious Victorians, who disagree with where all this is heading.

But in the world of Big Brother, all the coercion and pressure will be well worth it, in order to achieve a "tolerant" and "equal" society.

Much more could be mentioned, but suffice it to say that this report is not at all reassuring for those who are pro-life, pro-faith and pro-family. I have previously listed 10 reasons why we do not need a bill of rights (News Weekly, August 13, 2005).

Yet it is not just the proposal that is suspect, but the very process. The usual attempt to sneak in a radical agenda is at play here. The main winners will be the various activist minority groups. The main losers will be ordinary Victorians.

Also, the Orwellian implications of where all this is heading are a real concern. The radicals will never win by direct assault. That is why the Italian communist theoretician Antonio Gramsci and other radicals have said that the "long, slow march through the institutions" is the way to achieve this change.

Capture the institutions of power and influence. That is exactly what we have here. And, as is so often the case, the wolf comes in sheep's clothing.

  • Bill Muehlenberg is a pro-family activist, with degrees in philosophy and theology, and teaches at a number of theological colleges.

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