David Leyonhjelm: Discrimination and the Government

Next month a strong ‘yes’ result from the postal survey will be announced, a private members bill supported by the Government will be put forward, the bill will pass and same sex couples will be marrying before Christmas (and divorcing soon thereafter).

It’s all over bar the shouting, and the shouting will be about discrimination law.

The bill supported by the Government will allow organisations established for a religious purpose and religious celebrants to refuse involvement in a same sex marriage. But I’m betting it won’t do the same for non-religious celebrants or private businesses like venues, florists, photographers and cake makers. I intend to offer amendments to fix this gap. However, the debate this prompts will be a microcosm of a debate we need to have about discrimination law in Australia.

This debate is usefully broken up into a debate about government discrimination, and about discrimination by the rest of us.

To ensure they serve us all, governments should not discriminate between people based on their inherent characteristics unless, on rare occasions, such discrimination serves a legitimate role of government.

For example, government marriage registrars should not be allowed to discriminate between couples on the basis of sexuality, because there is no connection between such discrimination and the legitimate role of government.

Similarly, government should not provide payments to those who have certain ancestors and deny payments to those with different ancestors. This is exactly what the Commonwealth Government does when it hands out ABSTUDY payments. Subsidising the education of needy students may be a legitimate role of government but it is plainly wrong to suggest that, where there are two students with similarly paltry income and assets, the aboriginal student is needy while the non-aboriginal student is not.

Similarly, governments should not discriminate between criminals such that those with the right ancestors are less likely to be imprisoned. Yet this is exactly what those campaigning to reduce aboriginal incarceration rates are calling for.

There will be instances, albeit rare, where government discrimination serves a legitimate role of government. For instance, customs officials and police imposing extra scrutiny on young brown skinned men because they pose a statistically higher risk (albeit a low one) of criminal and terrorist activity could serve the legitimate government role of harm prevention.

Unfortunately, a police officer scrutinising a young brown-skinned man is likely to be attacked as racist, but not ageist or sexist.

When it comes to discrimination by the rest of us, the law is a dog’s breakfast.

We are not permitted to discriminate on the basis of age, disability, sex, sexual preference or race, even though the government does it all the time. But you’re exempt from this ban if your discrimination is considered to be reasonable by the relevant bureaucracy. This is as clear as mud.

You’re also exempt from discrimination law if your discrimination helps a particular group. This is bizarre as it ignores the fact that all discrimination helps a particular group at the expense of those outside the favoured group.

Finally, you’re exempt if you are a religion, registered charity, or not-for-profit organisation. This raises an important question – why should a secular country like Australia have some laws for religions and other laws for the rest of society? Why should charities have special status? And what is the difference between discrimination by a not-for-profit organisation and a business?

What difference would it make if we abolished all discrimination law that applies outside of government? Would there be a rush of businesses firing the black staff they secretly hate but they hired out of fear of discrimination law? And for how long would those businesses stay in business?

Why doesn’t discrimination law apply to other characteristics that a person can’t just choose to change, like being poor? Is an impoverished white man in less need of government intervention than a rich black woman?

And isn’t there a danger in discrimination law applying to characteristics that a person can choose, such as their religion? We all discriminate on the basis of the choices people make, the way they conduct themselves and the company they keep. It’s how we decide who to associate with, and it’s a laudable trait.

Because I’m a rich white man, some say I shouldn’t have views on the topic of discrimination, let alone express them or vote in accordance with them in parliament. But they’ll still accept my vote to legalise same sex marriage. Funny that.

David Leyonhjelm is a Senator for the Liberal Democrats

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33 Responses to David Leyonhjelm: Discrimination and the Government

  1. stackja

    Ask Lionel Murphy’s ALP they created the laws.

  2. Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    Quite right! If I meet Mr. Leyonhjelm in the street, I would not discriminate against him, even though he is a politician!

  3. Infidel Tiger 2.0 (Premium Content Subscribers Only)

    Finally, you’re exempt if you are a religion, registered charity, or not-for-profit organisation. This raises an important question – why should a secular country like Australia have some laws for religions and other laws for the rest of society? Why should charities have special status? And what is the difference between discrimination by a not-for-profit organisation and a business?

    Australia is not a secular country. We are a plural constitutional monarchy.

  4. Lysander

    The bill supported by the Government will allow organisations established for a religious purpose and religious celebrants to refuse involvement in a same sex marriage.

    So. You’ve seen the bill then?

  5. JohnA

    Why doesn’t discrimination law apply to other characteristics that a person can’t just choose to change, like being poor? Is an impoverished white man in less need of government intervention than a rich black woman?

    A very poor illustration (pun intended).

    People can choose to change their circumstances to deal with their poverty in ways that they cannot do in relation to their skin colour, hair colour or ethnic physical features and background.

    They can change their religion too (usually).

    They can also change their sexual orientation and behaviour, whereas they cannot change their genetic chromosome makeup.

  6. eb

    they cannot change their genetic chromosome makeup

    You Transphobe!

  7. struth

    Government should be absolutely blind to race.
    It should not recognise it at all.

    Government should only see citizens and treat them all equally.

    Government in this country has caused all race related problems.
    All of them, without fail, because they are dividing by race and instigating racism.

    It’s no surprise that we here , in the SSM survey, see a blatant admission of corruption.

    Who in their right mind would expect a survey operated in this fashion not to be corrupted.
    It’s the sole reason for it happening.

    Senator, could you please tell us what vigorous procedural integrity was put in place in survey counting?
    It seems like that is a taboo subject.
    Even though you are pro “buggery equals marriage” can you please do something on this front or at least report back to us, if it doesn’t interfere too much with your other side issues?

  8. Lysander

    Senator, could you please tell us what vigorous procedural integrity was put in place in survey counting?
    It seems like that is a taboo subject.

    +1

  9. RobK

    Noun: discrimination
    |di,skri-mu’ney-shun|
    1. Unfair treatment of a person or group on the basis of prejudice
    = favouritism
    2. The cognitive process whereby two or more stimuli are distinguished
    = secernment

    Like so many others it’s a loaded word.

  10. closeapproximation

    Senator, could you please tell us what vigorous procedural integrity was put in place in survey counting?
    It seems like that is a taboo subject.

    You are paranoid idiots.

  11. manalive

    They can also change their sexual orientation …

    LOL, do you speak from personal experience JohnA?

  12. jupes

    It’s all over bar the shouting, and the shouting will be about discrimination law.

    Fuck I hope the no vote gets up.

    Not just because homo marriage is an abomination that this country will live to regret, but because I want to see all the pompous gits claiming it’s all over ending up with egg on their faces.

  13. pbw

    Is Leyonhjelm an idiot or just a hypocrite?

    I voted YES.
    I know the protections for those who detest the idea for whatever reasons will be inadequate.
    I will propose greater protections, which
    I know will be defeated.
    I think this is an opportunity to display my libertarian credentials by proposing that all anti-“discrimination” laws be abolished.
    I know that this will not happen.
    I voted YES.

  14. Driftforge

    Discrimination is a societal necessity and should be encouraged both in the Government and in the Private sectors. The Government should have the freedom to discriminate for the purpose of the nations good, just as we should each have the freedom to discriminate for the good of ourselves, our families and our communities.

    Discrimination is about treating different things differently, regardless why they are different. It is calling a spade a spade. Without discrimination there is no capacity to create positive culture and, as is clearly observable, its absence has lead to deep erosion of the culture gifted to us that had been built up over countless generations.

    It is probably fair to say that the anti-discrimination law in place since the 1960’s has done more damage, culturally and economically, than any other piece of legislation on the books.

  15. Rabz

    A man cannot be married to a man, just as a woman cannot be married to a woman.

    The entire concept is preposterous.

    What this pointless mass debate does clearly demonstrate however, is that our accursed legislatures are stuffed to the gills with some of the most staggeringly stupid, unrepresentative, obnoxious, sanctimonious, hypocritical and corrupt dunderheads to have blighted the lives of normal people attempting to exist in this country.

  16. A Lurker

    Next month a strong ‘yes’ result from the postal survey will be announced, a private members bill supported by the Government will be put forward, the bill will pass and same sex couples will be marrying before Christmas (and divorcing soon thereafter).

    So you already know the result of the poll, even though people are still voting.
    Handy time-machine you have there Senator.
    Or was the result already predetermined even before the envelopes were mailed out to Australians?
    Sounds like Democracy is dead in Australia if we plebs are allowed only the ‘semblance of a say.

    So what about all those pesky free speech, free expression, free conscience, free assembly and free religion issues that have raised their head over the last few weeks? What is being done about ensuring that those aren’t affected by the legislation? Or have those been tossed in the Too-Hard Basket? I mean, you have been such a stalwart warrior for freedom of speech. Not.

    Ah well, too bad so sad. After all, it is only the little people who will have to wear the consequences. You’ll still be invited to all the best parliamentary parties.

  17. Driftforge

    Or was the result already predetermined even before the envelopes were mailed out to Australians?

    Pretty much. Although, on that logic, we are quite within our rights to ignore the results of the poll anyway.

    This should not be done, regardless of whether 45% or 95% of people think it should.

  18. Bruce

    “closeapproximation” started calling people “paranoid”.

    Always keep in mind the words of that old-time champion of liberty and justice, Josef Stalin.

    “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.”

    This quote appears in Boris Bazhanov’s memoirs of Stalin’s Former Secretary. It is generally, more loosely recorded as:the somewhat more catchy,

    “It’s not who votes that counts, it’s WHO COUNTS the VOTES.”

    Of course, such things could NEVER happen here……………

    Furthermore, it’s NOT paranoia if someone REALLY is out to get you.

  19. manalive

    I didn’t vote because I don’t care either way but I confidently predict that however the nation votes, the losers will not accept the result.

  20. Michel Lasouris

    How the hell does David know that it’s all over bar the shouting? Is he privy to information denied to rest of us? Not that I care, I won’t be acknowledging even the existence of h o m o s e x u a l s . I’m with Queen Victoria on this one.

  21. Siltstone

    For example, government marriage registrars should not be allowed to discriminate between couples on the basis of sexuality, because there is no connection between such discrimination and the legitimate role of government.

    Has the Senator considered this alterative? Abolish the Marriage Act entirely. What business is it of Government to get involved in marriage? Let churches, temples, mosques etc issue marriage certificates to those who meet their “rules”. Let the homosexual dog lovers society issue their own marriage certificate to “two blokes and a cocker spaniel”. The mob will work out which “marriages” mean something and which don’t.

  22. rickw

    So you already know the result of the poll, even though people are still voting.

    Interesting that this seems to be known.

    The whole Australian Political establishment can go and get fucked.

  23. Roger

    This raises an important question – why should a secular country like Australia have some laws for religions and other laws for the rest of society?

    We’re not actually a secular country; acknowledgment of almighty God as historically and theologically conceived of by Christians, is written into the Constitution.

    What we are is a nation with a constitutional separation of church and state.

  24. Howard Hill

    So you already know the result of the poll, even though people are still voting.

    Interesting that this seems to be known.

    The whole Australian Political establishment can go and get fucked.

    LOL! Everyone knows if voting worked the parasitic class would ban it :~)

  25. Tel

    What we are is a nation with a constitutional separation of church and state.

    But not a constitutional separation of marriage and state… even though marriage rightly belongs to the religious domain because it’s a lifestyle issue.

  26. Roger

    The whole Australian Political establishment can go and get fucked.

    A sentiment I am coming to share.

    With a few individual exceptions – and even then those individuals are inconsistent – the political class are betraying Australians.

  27. Roger

    But not a constitutional separation of marriage and state… even though marriage rightly belongs to the religious domain because it’s a lifestyle issue.

    Marriage spans both religious and civil spheres.

    Our forefathers never anticipated leaders in the civil sphere could be so bereft of both religious sentiment and an understanding of natural law.

    The same applies to the question of euthanasia, where two past Prime Ministers have put our present leadership to shame.

  28. iampeter

    Yerp, discrimination laws have basically destroyed the idea of equality under the law.

    They’ve all gotta go.

  29. Alex Davidson

    I agree with a fair bit of what David says, but we part ways on this piece of nonsense:

    For example, government marriage registrars should not be allowed to discriminate between couples on the basis of sexuality, because there is no connection between such discrimination and the legitimate role of government.

    First, we don’t need government registrars of marriage. If they are going to exist at all, they should be private.

    Secondly, marriage fundamentally revolves around sexual reproduction, and for that you need opposite sexes. It can’t be done with sexes that are the same. It’s not a case of discrimination, but a case of maintaining definitions and concepts that have been around for millennia. I really don’t know why David feels the need to pander to the leftist/SJW crowd over this. Distinctly un-libertarian.

  30. Empire GTHO Phase III

    For example, government marriage registrars should not be allowed to discriminate between couples on the basis of sexuality, because there is no connection between such discrimination and the legitimate role of government.

    This statement is invalid. You would first need to change the meaning of the word marriage for it to make any sense. You’ve really got it arse about David.

    Once we start redefining language to fit an outcome, we are well on the road to Room 101, which is of course the objective of those funding the propaganda.

  31. tgs

    I didn’t vote because I don’t care either way but I confidently predict that however the nation votes, the losers will not accept the result.

    Haha, ain’t that the truth.

  32. closeapproximation

    “I consider it completely unimportant who in the party will vote, or how; but what is extraordinarily important is this—who will count the votes, and how.”

    Fair call and yes let us be forever vigilant.

    But seriously, I think validity of count in this vote is of least concern.

    Of much greater concern is the backdrop of lack of strong freedom of speech culture in Oz right now, such that it is a real possibility in near future that ppl will face sanctions for expressing traditional views on marriage, however daft or otherwise those views may be.

  33. Crossie

    “It’s not who votes that counts, it’s WHO COUNTS the VOTES.”

    Without proper scrutiny of the vote count the result cannot have any legitimacy.

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