NATIONAL AFFAIRS: by Damian WyldNews Weekly
Political lobby groups funded by your taxes
, October 17, 2009
The past year has seen a surge of activity by Australian lobby groups, many of which are taxpayer-funded statutory bodies. On issues, ranging from same-sex marriage to equal opportunity laws and charters of rights, these groups have had plenty to say.
One such example is the Australian Human Rights Commission, whose activities persist in the most provocative of ways. Aside from its ridiculous and uncalled for inquiry into religious freedom and belief, it has more recently provided a partisan political submission to the parliamentary same-sex marriage inquiry.
In its submission, the AHRC twists UN protocols to suit its purpose and points to numerous Western jurisdictions that permit same-sex marriage (but, curiously, fails to mention the overwhelming majority that don't).
Rather telling is the commission's insistence that "supporting same-sex marriage need not, and does not, raise any conflict between the right to equality and the right to freedom of religion". If that is the case, why raise the issue? The AHRC doth protest too much, methinks.
In any case, though, the AHRC is certainly living up to its "strategic plan" of "having an even greater impact on the enjoyment of human rights in Australia". However, it is questionable whether, if the AHRC has its way, Australians will still be allowed to exercise all the rights they currently enjoy.
The same strategic plan clearly points to a planned increase in AHRC activism. By 2011, it envisions wielding "substantial influence on parliamentary and government debate and decisions". It expects that its "submissions [will] influence courts" and that its "complaint service is highly utilised", to name but a few of its ambitions.
In other words, "human rights" activism, to redress real or imagined grievances, is to be a growth industry.
Voters should be deeply concerned about how their taxes are used to fund an organisation such as the AHRC which seeks political influence over parliaments and courts, acts like a quasi-court on complaints brought before it, yet remains unaccountable to the public.
Meanwhile, other allied - and similarly taxpayer-funded - bodies, such as state-based equal opportunity commissions, pursue their radical political campaigns unimpeded. Victoria has borne the brunt of this left-wing agenda, while other states, such as South Australia, are belatedly waking up to the threat.
In both these states, proposed coercive "equal opportunity" laws have ended up being modified, but only after a public outcry. However, voters who think this is the end of the matter are kidding themselves.
Can one realistically expect, for example, that the right of a religious-based school, hospital or charity, to employ on the basis of faith will be preserved in this political climate? Only a year ago, Victoria, at the stroke of a legislative pen, deprived those medical practitioners, who had a conscientious objection to the killing of the unborn, of the right to refuse to refer a woman to an abortionist.
In this political climate, coercive "equal opportunity" laws will, if anything, be slowly but surely tightened in coming years.
Of course, not only taxpayer-funded government bodies, but non-government organisations also, are capable of pushing particular political agendas.
South Australian Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young's same-sex marriage bill has, not surprisingly, received support via an emotive advertising campaign from the likes of Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). What is surprising is the support from the likes of Amnesty International.
Less than two years ago, Amnesty abandoned its abortion-neutral stance and came out in support of abortion. In doing so, it lost the support of much of its Christian constituency (see "Trojan Horse inside Amnesty International", News Weekly
, December 22, 2007).
Now, Amnesty has taken a step further. In its submission to a recent Australian parliamentary inquiry, it declared that "same-sex civil marriage is an issue in which fundamental human rights issues are at stake. … Amnesty International supports all initiatives to end discrimination in civil marriage laws based on sexual orientation or gender identity".
Given Amnesty's recent overtures to the homosexual community, such as contributing a float to the Sydney Mardi Gras and establishment of "LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) Networks" nationally, its latest move is scarcely surprising. But it does not make it any less saddening that an organisation created to defend the persecuted and vulnerable should degenerate into a pro-abortion and same-sex interest lobby group.
Our present predicament should not make us despair, but rather stir us to action. We should remember the object-lesson of how, if you drop a frog in a pot of boiling water, it will frantically try to clamber out. But if you place it gently in a pot of lukewarm water and gradually turn up the heat, it will float there placidly and unresistingly until it is boiled to death.
So it is will be for us if we remain unmoved and apathetic about successive incremental changes designed to deprive us of our rights.
Australians should demand the immediate scrapping of all taxpayer-funded human rights and equal opportunity bodies. Related legislation should be torn up and re-started from scratch. Replacement regimes should have vastly reduced powers with an emphasis on mediation work. They should be effectively prohibited from lobbying or from "ambulance chasing".
The Federal Government should also take a long hard look at the privileged tax-exempt status and access to public grants enjoyed by politically partisan NGOs, such as Amnesty International. The taxpayer deserves no less.Damian Wyld is South Australian state president of the National Civic Council.