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Monday, January 19, 2009

HRCs spread their tentacles in Australia

Here's the latest accrual of power to the Human Rights bureaucrats in Australia's Victoria state:

The state Government is considering plans to overhaul the Victorian Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission, taking it from a complaint-driven conciliation body to a proactive discrimination-busting agency.

A current review into equal opportunity laws is expected to consider scrapping exemptions that allow exclusive private clubs such as the Athenaeum or Lyceum to bar male or female members. The recommendations for a major upgrade to the commission's powers came in a review conducted by veteran social justice campaigner and former public advocate Julian Gardner on behalf of Attorney-General Rob Hulls.

"The power to conduct an inquiry could include the power to compel the attendance of a person to provide information and/or produce documents," Mr Gardner's report recommends.

"These powers could be supported by the power of entry, search and seizure to obtain necessary evidence and documentation."

The Government is considering the recommendations and is believed to be supportive of boosting the commission's powers. It has referred the issue to a parliamentary committee, which will report in April, before it goes to state cabinet.

Mr Hulls has described the state's equal opportunity laws as "outmoded", saying "reform in this area is long overdue". 

The Victoria Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission is charged with upholding The Equal Opportunies Act, The Racial and Religious Tolerance Act, and The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilites, but Grant Havers thinks that in the battle over discrimination, free speech which will be the real victim:

Judging from the Canadian experience with these commissions [...], it is unlikely that a Popperian “open society” will emerge from policies which usually clamp down on individuals with less than politically correct views on religion and politics.  The “busting” of discrimination will in practice mean the eradication of any speech that doesn’t fit the preferences of the apparatchiks who run these inquisitions.  Nevertheless, the chief executive of the Aussie commission insists that this body will use its “stick powers” (as opposed to its “carrot powers”) “very sparingly.”

Posted by Kalim Kassam on January 19, 2009 in International Affairs | Permalink


The government should be armed with carrots for almost all things. Rarely should they be allowed near sticks.

No good can come from this!

Posted by: TM | 2009-01-19 11:34:37 PM

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