Ben Saul has an op-ed in the Fairfax press launching into Tim Wilson’s appointment to the Human Rights Commission.
So let’s have a look at what he thinks human rights is:
t is inevitable, and right, that those concerned about human rights should focus on the most harmful abuses. Usually this means speaking out for the poor, the vulnerable, the marginalised, and the powerless.
To be sure that is what the human rights lobby has become – yet I’m not convinced that is what human rights is about. What Saul is describing sounds more like social work and charity.
But he is not entirely ignorant of human rights – he has heard of the Magna Carta.
Since the Magna Carta 800 years ago, the most important civil right has been freedom from arbitrary executive detention, without charge or effective judicial control.
Well he is on the right track – the Magna Carta does emphasise freedom from arbitrary executive power, where detention is one of those powers. Okay, moving on.
For 20 years, Australian governments have violated this freedom tens of thousands of times. Mandatory immigration detention is a grave human rights abuse, all the more so when it is inflicted on refugees seeking our protection.
I agree – mandatory detention without trial is disgraceful. Always will be.
If the Attorney-General was genuinely concerned about civil rights, he would phone the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison to release all asylum seekers detained for, say, more than 30 days. In seconds, he could stop thousands of serious rights violations.
Saul can’t really imagine that detainees only have human rights after 30 days? Surely not. Mind you with the progressive left anything is possible. But this is the problem with the progressive lefts entire argument; only some people have rights some of the time.
After that the argument deteriorates pretty quickly.
Why wasn’t the position publicly advertised and competitively selected based on merit?
Heh – so the ALP gets to appoint its mates, but the Coalition has to advertise? I don’t know if Saul has been calling for open and transparent appointment processes over time and has form in the area, but I suspect not. He is just bitching because one of his mates didn’t get appointed. But look at this:
It is an obvious point, but the Human Rights Commissioner should be a human rights expert, not an ideological appointee. Why not appoint one of the many Australians who have spent their careers working at the coalface, with victims of violations, in human rights organisations?
Human rights isn’t an academic discipline or institutionalised social work – it is a lived experience. I understand that academics want to transform our institutions and legal system into something like the European codes of law where academics and theoreticians imagine a better world and deploy the states to socially engineer those outcomes, but that isn’t how the common law countries have evolved. The lived experience, solving actual problems, and a preference for the real over the imagined is how progress is made. That is why someone like Tim Wilson is a better appointment than a ‘human rights expert’.
[Brandis] could also listen to his own Human Rights Commission.
Oh, he will be. There is no doubt that he will hear Tim Wilson promoting free speech. More importantly he will hear Tim Wilson calling for the abolition of 18C. We’ll be watching to see if he actually acts.