Freedom commissioners might fix the AHRC

I have written an article in The Australian today about the abject failure of the Australian Human Rights Commission to stand up for classical liberal democratic rights. I’ve argued that the only way to stop the commission from campaigning for more restrictions on our freedoms is to abolish it. But if it can’t be abolished it should have freedom commissioners appointed to promote freedom of speech, association and religion and the protection of property rights and the rule of law:

The Australian Human Rights Commission must correct its bias towards a left-wing human rights agenda by moving to appoint freedom commissioners.

The ideological mindset of the commission led opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis last week to ask the president of the commission, Gillian Triggs: “Why has it taken people like my friends at the Institute of Public Affairs to promote and defend freedom in Australia?”

At best, the commission pays lip-service to the idea that it needs to strike a balance between old liberal rights — such as freedom of speech, religion and association — and new progressive rights such as the right not to be offended.

But, funnily enough, we only hear about the need for balance when the commission is criticised for its failure to promote the first category of rights.

There is a simple way to overcome this problem — the appointment of freedom commissioners. Currently, there are five commissioners of discrimination and social justice. Balance could be achieved by appointing five freedom commissioners: one each for freedom of speech, association, religion, property rights and the rule of law.

Such a structure could help to achieve real balance within the commission and assist in reversing the curtailment of our most fundamental human rights.


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