BREAKING: Lawyer wants more laws


Gillian Triggs is the president of the Australian Human Rights Commission. So it’s a real shame she doesn’t understand how to protect human rights.

She doesn’t understand that the state is the most significant threat to human rights that exists. In a piece for the Guardian today, Triggs argues that we need to give the state more power over our lives:

There is really only one sensible option If we are truly serious about securing the right to our fundamental freedoms in this country: we must legislate.

Triggs appears to be confused about what is or is not a human right:

It is not appropriate to cherry pick one’s favourite right over another – such as the right to freedom of speech over the right to anti-discrimination.

Anti-discrimination laws don’t protect human rights. In fact, they are designed with the intention of attacking human rights, including freedom of association.

Triggs somehow fails to recognise this. Members of the human rights class all share the same strand of myopia. Instead of dealing with the serious intellectual inconsistency raised by their flawed conception of human rights they ignore that initial question entirely. Instead they simply assert that a set of human rights exists and then state that what is important is that they are all ‘balanced’ against one another. They appear to believe that United Nations treaties provide some kind of knock down argument about whether something is a human right. Whenever they’re challenged on non-rights such as the so called “right not to be discriminated against” they’ll invariably refer to a provision in a document negotiated by very important people in the international community.

Of course, not even Triggs believes her own rhetoric on ‘balancing’ human rights. I doubt she could point to a single case where the Commission has chosen to defend free speech over anti-discrimination. Alternatively, what has the Commission ever done to defend property rights? (Nothing.)

More laws is the lawyers answer to every perceived problem. But it’s not more laws we need if we want to protect human rights. If the protection of our most fundamental freedoms is the goal then we should be fighting to shrink the size of the state, not grow it.


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