Chancellor's Human Rights Lecture

This was Malcolm Fraser’s lecture, on 28 Nov 2005. It was entitled “Human Rights and Responsibilities in the Age of Terror.”

Malcolm Fraser was: first elected to government in 1955; PM 1975-83; head of CARE for a while; the 2000 HREOC medal winner.

Usual caveat applies: these are my notes, and what went into my ears and out of my pen doesn’t necessarily, consistently, reflect what was said!

*Currently there is wrong discussion among democratic leaders, that liberty and rule of law cannot stay while defending ourselves.
** Discrimination and fear are based on race and religion
** Governments used deception for war on Iraq, over the WMD
***Papers show Bush had decided to go to war vs Iraq as early as July 2000.
** John Stewart Mill (sp?) – something about going to war for an idea, if aggressive not defensive, is as bad as going to war for land or revenue. Forcing ideas is bad.

*Terrorism is not new. And they have different motivations – which we need to understand.
*Rule of law must be applied to all, regardless of race/religion/etc.

*Torture: English courts started outlawing evidence from torture since the Magna Carta!! How then can we be having discussions of what is ‘acceptable’??

*New laws enable people suspected of having information to be held with no charge, with no access to anyone else (even a lawyer). The onus of proof is on the detainee, not the detainer. And no mention is allowed of this for two years afterwards, otherwise a jail term is likely. These laws are unlikely to stop terrorists.

*We have no Bill of Rights – almost every other Western democracy does, and this is quite a problem today.

*New sedition laws say the person does not need to have intent, but could simply be ‘reckless’; also doesn’t seem to have to be a direct cause of violence undertaken.
**Control orders/preventative detention orders do not go through a judge: is up to the Executive Branch. (Hello!? Separation of powers??) Rule of law abandoned… police state….

*We must be able to uphold the liberty and rights of those whose opinions we abhor. To preserve our own liberty, we must preserve that of our enemy.

Q: civil disobedience? No; breaking the law to uphold the law doesn’t make sense. Must be done peacefully.

Q: the UN? Is, after all, only as good as the governments that make it up – the US and others have always had the capability to either destroy or strengthen the UN. When government leaders criticise the UN, they criticise themselves.

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