August 22nd 2009

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Terrorism comes to Sydney

EDITORIAL: Is the financial crisis receding?

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS: Heavy-handed China shows its true colours

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Rudd Government bid to take over hospitals

QUEENSLAND: Anna Bligh's Labor Government on the skids

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Regional consultation needed on new Murray-Darling plan

RURAL AFFAIRS: Dairy and irrigation industries hit hard

ENVIRONMENT: Analysis of alarmism: ocean acidification

CLIMATE: Climate change devastation: apocalypse now

HUMAN RIGHTS: Grievance industry shows exponential growth

OPINION: How Australian authors fare in the free market

GOVERNMENT: Public service independence undermined by politicians

OPINION: Forced repatriations from Austria in 1945

AS THE WORLD TURNS: Teenagers rescued from suicide training camps; Demographic time-bomb transforming Europe; Shocking decline of British schools; Bismarck on politics

CINEMA: Portrait of the starship captain as a young hoon - Star Trek


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Grievance industry shows exponential growth

by Charles Francis, AM, QC, RFD

News Weekly, August 22, 2009
Peter Costello pointed out recently that anti-discrimination statutes have done their job and "discrimination" is no longer a preoccupation with Australians (The Age, Melbourne, July 29, 2009).

However, we are left with bureaucrats with not enough to do and anxious their jobs may be phased out and they may be required to do some real work, as in nursing, teaching or road-building.

The plight of these bureaucrats was evident a few years ago when Victoria's Equal Opportunity Commission (whose members seldom attend church seminars) sent agents to report on a Catch the Fire Ministries seminar on Islam intended for a Christian audience. Their report resulted in the infamous Islamic Council of Victoria vs. Catch the Fire Ministries case, which cost millions of dollars and ended ambiguously.

A curious feature of this case was the strange alliance between the Equal Opportunity Commission (EOC), which is committed to enhancing homosexual rights, and the Islamic Council, whose Sharia law recommends the execution of homosexuals and apostates. One humourist commented that not since the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact had such a bizarre alliance been concocted.

Now proponents of "equality" are determined to expand their horizons, at the national level by enacting a Commonwealth charter of rights, and in the state of Victoria by removing exemptions granted to churches from equal opportunity legislation.

What a beehive of activity! The EOC could send agents to attend all church services (which would be no bad thing in itself) if it felt it was not receiving enough "spontaneous" complaints.

In July, a media release from the Australian Human Right Commission (AHRC), far from encouraging Australians to form their own views as to whether we need a human rights charter, revealed it was lobbying hard not only for a charter but for a major expansion in the AHRC bureaucracy.

It stated that the AHRC president, Cathy Branson QC, "will give primary weight to the voices of those who are most vulnerable to human rights abuses" when she debates the merits of an Australian Human Rights Act in Parliament House, Canberra.

However, the voices of those who are most vulnerable, such as babies in the womb, cannot be heard, and the AHRC ignores pro-life activists who speak on their behalf.

The media release also states that while Ms Branson will argue for a national human rights act, she "will acknowledge there is no perfect model of human rights protection".

Such humility! And what is the AHRC's solution to the "imperfections" in their models of protecting humanity? The same media release says that human rights commissioner Graeme Innes "will argue for the jurisdiction of the AHRC to be expanded to enable it to inquire into and conciliate a broader range of human rights complaints, and for it to be given a greater role in scrutinising legislation for human rights compatibility ... and for the government to respond formally and promptly to Commission recommendations contained in reports that are tabled in Parliament".

And there you have it - a vastly expanded taxpayer-funded bureaucracy, with inflated salaries, travel costs, luxury hotel accommodation, lunches and dinners, stirring up grievances where none exist or which could be resolved by more efficient means, and this at a time when families are struggling to pay mortgages and grocery bills.

Ms Branson said in Parliament House: "Thoughtful, informed and well-meaning individuals who care about human rights hold, sometimes passionately, very different views on the best way for Australia to protect human rights. While the views of all of these people should be respected, ultimately the issue calls for judgment."

Clearly, she wants it to be her judgment call, not ours.

Ms Branson goes on to say that a human rights act will provide a "moral compass" to guide decision-making in good times and bad. But whose moral compass? The Judaeo-Christian compass based on Biblical values? Or those of the EOC in Victoria which wants to deprive churches of their right to employ those who share their values?

A group whose rights are overlooked are disabled children. In a letter to Melbourne's Herald Sun (July 27, 2009), Shirley McKernan expressed disgust at the lavish spending by Brumby Labor Government bureaucrats on overseas trips while she was unable to get funding for a wheelchair for her daughter.

Mr Innes, who suffers from a disability, should be sympathetic to the plight of disabled children and their distraught parents. These are people with practical problems governments can solve instead of wasting resources on political grievances whipped up by the grievance industry.

The clientele of the EOC - the radical Islamist, the same-sex marriage campaigner, and the wicca practitioner who wants a subsidy for her imaginary broomstick - should be made to wait till medical waiting-lists are cleared.

Charles Francis, AM, QC, was a barrister and former Victorian state MP.
He died on August 14, 2009, just after News Weekly went to press.

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