What brings John Howard’s “Irish” out

Implausibly described by Andrew Bolt as “a leader speaking frankly as he wisely finds, free of spin or timidity”, is this shameless collection of half-truths, catch-phrases and outright bullshit from John Howard, speaking the other week at the launch of some new Quadrant facility, on the subject of a “Bill of Rights”:

TRANSCRIPT

Pretentious Vivaldi-type music.

howardquadrant

JWH: Every good intellectual force needs a cause. If ever there were a cause for many of the people in this room, can I say that cause is fighting with all our might the very notion of any kind of bill of rights for this country.

QUADRANT AUDIENCE: HEAR HEAR

Nothing fires us up like opposing human rights for ordinary people!

JWH: There are many things that bring my Irish out as far as a bill of rights is concerned, and perhaps more than anything else is this insulting proposition that this country is so devoid of respect for individual human rights, that we have to import them from overseas.

Nice. It’s unpatriotic to respect other Australians’ human rights. That’s just what those foreigners want us to do!

The notion that we should transfer to unelected judges, much as I respect the incorruptability and the high intelligence of Australia’s judiciary…

Some of my best friends are judges, honestly!

…the idea that we should transfer to unelected judges decisions which ordinary citizens are just, indeed more capable of resolving than they are.

Nothing more insulting than judges making decisions. Can I get a chant in here? TEAR DOWN THE COURTS! TEAR DOWN THE COURTS! (Much as I respect them.)

I think of all the things that can be said about the notion of the bill of rights is that it would represent the ultimate triumph of the elitist view of politics in Australia. And that elitist view says that you out there, the mob as they are occasionally called – and I occasionally invoked that expression when I was Prime Minister – are not capable of making decisions between right and wrong, that we are not capable of applying our own moral compass to the direction of the country, that we are incapable of resolving the great moral and other issues of the day, and that somehow or other, gifted though they may be, the men and women who sit on the various judiciaries of our nation, are able to do so.

By the same token, it’s insulting to you out there, the mob as you’re occasionally called, that we have laws against ordinary crimes. Doesn’t that also suggest that you’re not capable of making distinctions between right and wrong? What are they saying – that we need laws to stop Australians robbing and assaulting each other? Those elitists!

Come on – TEAR DOWN THE COURTS! TEAR DOWN THE COURTS! (Gifted though they may be.)

I think the diminishing in the role of the parliament, I mean we hear from time to time the the bewailing of the role of Parliament in our society, and the role of Parliament would be massively reduced and would decline enormously through the introduction of a Bill of Rights.

He says that, even though he’s talking about proposals where the bill of rights is just an Act passed by Parliament, so the claim doesn’t make even the slightest amount of sense. Howard is deliberately conflating a constitutional bill of rights like the Americans have – that can only be changed by referendum (nothing less democratic than asking the people directly what the law should be!) – with a bill of rights that can be amended by parliament, which is what is actually being proposed.

The only way that what we’re discussing would limit parliament’s power would be if parliament promised to protect a right and then actually didn’t – and, of course, if the courts did overturn a piece of legislation because it was incompatible with part of the bill of rights, then it could always simply abolish the inconvenient right, as it could any other piece of legislation. It would just have to do so openly and publicly.

In other words, a bill of rights would actually be a form of accountability for parliament – it would still have all the power it has now, only it couldn’t get away as much with saying one thing and doing another.

You can see why the idea gives John Howard the screaming heebie-jeebies.

(We’ll leave the rest of John’s rant about our “distinctive high quality cultural identity” and how courageously he’s willing to invoke the “Islamic fascist” bogeyman for another day.)

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43 responses to “What brings John Howard’s “Irish” out

  1. The role of a Bill of Rights is to constrain parliament. The rights the Bill enshrines should only be those that are passed in a referendum.

    If this Bill does not have that level of support, but is forced through a Labor dominated parliament, it will go down as another divisive chapter in the culture wars – the long march through the institutions as the left attempts to impose their morality on society. Instead of Tea Parties we will have mini Eureka Stockades springing up around the land.

    There is almost zero chance of free speech being adequately protected by the Bill and a near certainty that blasphemy laws will be permitted.

    Free speech is the progenitor of our other freedoms. This Bill of Rights is an act of genital mutilation.

  2. I’m glad that J-Ho is so worked up at the notion of ‘importing’ anything from oversease like a bill of rights.

    Perhaps he’ll join the dots and recant his devotion to the Queen of England.

  3. If this Bill does not have that level of support, but is forced through a Labor dominated parliament, it will go down as another divisive chapter in the culture wars

    Sounds to me like Howard (and his ilk)’s objection is not to the lack of referendum, but to the Bill of Rights as a concept.

    SB – why are you falsely seizing on the referendum issue as the marker for this ‘culture war’ when it is quite clear that the basic desireability of a Bill of Rights is the defining issue?

  4. Mondo:

    why are you falsely seizing on the referendum issue as the marker for this ‘culture war’ when it is quite clear that the basic desireability of a Bill of Rights is the defining issue?

    I’m prepared to pleasantly surprised by the Bill in its final form, but the signs are not looking good.

    My view is that a Bill which doesn’t enshrine a strong right to freedom of speech is worse than useless. there may be some other worthwhile things in the Bill, but if it permits laws which limit free speech, it will be an abomination.

    If the Bill ends up imposing something like this nonsense which is proposed for Europe then the Bill will be nothing more than a torture device. There is all the difference in the world between allowing the freedom to pursue a religion or lifestyle, and prohibiting criticism of it.

    The Bill of Rights proposal signals the moment when the chattering classes unsheath their spiny schlongs and dick over their rest of us. Hopefully people will feel the throbbing pressure on their arse-lips in time to turn around and lop them off.

  5. Who were the ones making the most noise in the article you linked to, SB? Organisations allied to the Christian Church (and by no means middle-of-the-road ones either) … the original Inquisitors. I’m sure they’d know a lot about torture devices …

    Nice try, but make the next one a little more convincing.

  6. The Bill of Rights proposal signals the moment when the chattering classes unsheath their spiny schlongs and dick over their rest of us.

    But you support a Bill of Rights SB (at least in principle) – do you consider yourself to be part of “the chattering classes” SB?

    Howard and his claque of supporters oppose BoR period. They do not support your push to have the right to free speech codified into law – they do not support the push to have ANY right codified into law.

    Why is it that when others propose a BoR (in their preferred model) they are “unsheath[ing] their spiny scholngs and dick over the rest of us” but when you propose your own model you’re a hero?

  7. RM, I guess your point is that people change. Take the left. They were very big on free speech and the right to protest in the 60s. Now they spend there days shutting people up, and criticising protesters as Tea-baggers.

    In the case of the proposed European attack on free speech, you have chosen to play the man, not the ball. The fact is that limiting free speech in the way they propose is rotten and wrong. In your mind ideology may trump reason, but it does not lead to rational debate. Try arguing the issue instead of using an ad hominem lettuce leaf.

  8. Now they spend there days shutting people up,

    Got any examples of people being silenced SB?
    I would have thought “criticising protesters as teabaggers” would constitute freedom of speech.

  9. Mondo:

    Why is it that when others propose a BoR (in their preferred model) they are “unsheath[ing] their spiny scholngs and dick over the rest of us” but when you propose your own model you’re a hero?

    The proposed Bill will likely allow a multitude of limits on free speech, whereas I would support a Bill which guaranteed it.

    If you take the European example I linked to, that law will take away rights. On the other hand, I am interested in entrenching rights. My approach is beneficial as it promotes human rights. The proposed Bill takes rights away. It is pure newspeak to call it a “Bill of Rights” at all.

  10. Zoot:

    Got any examples of people being silenced SB?

    In Australia, Toben has been jailed, and Scot and Nalliah were prosecuted for speaking their mind in Victoria. The list is a mile long in Canada and Europe. Geert Wilders, a Dutch politician is being prosecuted for making a short film on Islam.

    I would have thought “criticising protesters as teabaggers” would constitute freedom of speech.

    Quite true, but you can’t help laugh at the hypocrisy of the idiots from whom you here not a peep when the anti-globalisation psychos emerge in violent rage like a screaming swarm of succubi whenever the opportunity arises.

  11. On the other hand, I am interested in entrenching rights.

    You’re not getting it SB.

    Howard and all his various cronies will not support a Bill of Rights in any form. Read his speech – he is not criticising the model being proposed, he is criticising the concept of a BoR. He calls it “the ultimate triumph of the elitist view of politics in Australia”.

    Thus the division in the “culture war” that you have identified is not the form of the BoR, it is the BoR itself. You openly support a BoR (as long as it properly protects free speech) and as such have picked sides in the war – you’ve sided with the ‘pro BoR’ team.

    It is equally clear that you’re OK with “imposing morality on society”. There’s no escaping it SB – if you really believe that a BoR setting out our basic rights is desireable then you’re perfectly happy to impose standards on the rest of us – as long as they’re your standards.

  12. SB, the brave and principled defender of freedom of speech draws the line at ‘the left’ saying “tea-bagger”.

    As for Howard, if he’d been around he would have opposed the Magna Carta.

  13. That proposed EU directive actually states in Article 3(1) (note: PDF):

    …the prohibition of
    discrimination shall apply to all persons, as regards both the public and private sectors,
    including public bodies, in relation to access to:
    (a) Social protection, including social security, social assistance and healthcare;
    (b) [Deleted.]
    (c) Education;
    (d) and the supply of, goods and other services which are available to the public, including
    housing.
    Subparagraph (d) shall apply to natural persons only insofar as they are performing a
    professional or commercial activity defined in accordance with national laws and practice.

    So it doesn’t actually apply to speech at large, only to speech connected with those things, which is fair enough; service providers shouldn’t be vilifying their customers.

    As for this (from SB’s source):

    “When providing a service (such as a hotel room) or selling goods (such as books) in the EU, businesses and their employees will have to provide them or risk being sued, irrespective of whether they find themselves facilitating sexual ethics contrary to their religious beliefs or helping promote another religion,” say the legal experts of the British organizations Christian Concern for Our Nation (CCFON) and Christian Legal Centre.

    …break out the nano-engineered violins.

  14. Mondo:

    There’s no escaping it SB – if you really believe that a BoR setting out our basic rights is desireable then you’re perfectly happy to impose standards on the rest of us – as long as they’re your standards.

    That goes for all proponents of a Bill of Rights. for them the argument is about the content of the Bill. I prefer a Bill that guarantees freedoms, as opposed to the European example I gave above, which applies arbitrary limits on freedom.

    Micahel:

    SB, the brave and principled defender of freedom of speech draws the line at ‘the left’ saying “tea-bagger”

    ‘Teabagger’ is a great expression. As usual, you misrepresent my position, which is to mock hypocrisy, not proscribe words.

    And for the avoidance of doubt, I am not trying to limit your free speech or stop your willful misrepresentations. Go right ahead. Knock yourself out. In doing so you prove yet again that sunlight is the best disinfectant.

  15. Bruce, that sort of legislation results in this sort of nonsense:

    A Christian couple have been charged with a criminal offence after taking part in what they regarded as a reasonable discussion about religion with guests at their hotel.

    And the reverse onus of proof, so frequent in this sort of disgusting legislation, would be a denial of due process in any Bill of Rights which was actually concerned with rights.

  16. That goes for all proponents of a Bill of Rights.

    Exactly SB. This is what makes your attempt to slander others for their attempt to “unsheath their spiny schlongs and dick over their rest of us” so laughably pathetic. YOU want to do exactly this – you just want a slightly different model.

    If the BoR issue really is part of Australia’s ‘culture war’, as you have suggested above, then I’m sorry to tell you but you’ve quite clearly taken the side of those who openly seek to impose their standards on the rest of society.

    Welcome to the “chattering classes” SB. You’ll fit right in.

  17. Mondo:

    YOU want to do exactly this

    Now now Mondo, no need to shout with those loud capital letters.

    Surely even you can see the difference between curtailing rights and protecting them from the depredations of the victim-mongers. The current proposal is about the former.

  18. I wish you would stop with the Toben example SB. Something you agreed with me upon on a thread here awhile back is that freedom of speech does not extend to the telling of lies or slander.

    Well, the material that appeared on Toben’s website where lies…proven lies, which had been proven to be lies time and time again. If I set up a website that claimed George Pell was a paedophile, I would be ordered to take it down and rightly so. If I refused to do that, I would be sent to jail, and rightly so.

  19. I should probably clarify, the telling of lies as a means to slander a person or group.

  20. Patrick, if you slander Pell, you would be personally liable for the damage you do to his reputation. It is unlikely that you would be sent to jail, although I think criminal defamation is still on the books. We have laws to protect the reputation of individuals, but not entities or large groups.

    As far as I can tell Toben did not slander particular individuals.

    Toben has his beliefs. They are utterly repugnant and completely without merit. However, prosecuting him for stating them is even more disgusting. Jailing him is obscene.

    If you live in a country where all the nastiness is hidden because people are too scared to speak their minds, their petty hatreds and vile beliefs do not see the light of day. Those beliefs are not challenged or ridiculed, but fester in hidden places. Sunlight is the best disinfectant.

    The jailing of Toben is a serious violation of human rights and a very bad precedent. Sadly any Bill of Rights supported by the progressive twatocracy is unlikely to have strong protection for free speech.

    The whole idea of silencing people because somebody else claims they are lying is utterly indefensible. It is the kind of thinking that leads to tyrannical theocracies. The freedom to be wrong is an essential part of any liberal democracy.

    It is extremely unlikely that Toben is lying (in the sense of deliberately saying something he knows to be untrue). He probably really believes the vile things he says, so a prohibition on lying would not stop him. What you appear to want is to stop people from saying stuff that everyone else believes to be true.

    It is only a small step from there to criminalising people who contest the current climate orthodoxy, as some of its more fascistic supporters would like to do.

    Toben may be disgusting, but he has also been turned into a martyr by those who prosecuted him.

  21. Surely even you can see the difference between curtailing rights and protecting them from the depredations of the victim-mongers.

    As a matter of fact I can – however a large portion of the Australian population (represented by John Howard in this instance) does not recognise the distinction. In their view any codfication of rights into law is unwanted – including your much vaunted right to free speech.

    Yet you still feel justified in imposing your morality on all these ordinary Australians. You seek to limit their right to choose whatever laws they wish to implement based purely on your own personal ideology.

    You’re an elitist SB.

  22. Mondo, you just don’t seem to be able to grasp the difference between enforcing state morality and creating the space so individuals can choose their own morality as they see fit.

    In the latter case, individuals choose their own limits, whereas in the former case, the left/church/power elite enforce their morality on others,.

  23. you just don’t seem to be able to grasp the difference between enforcing state morality and creating the space so individuals can choose their own morality as they see fit.

    No – what I don’t see the difference between is the means proposed to achieve either of the above outcomes. On the one hand we have a Bill of Rights, and on the other hand we have a . . . Bill of Rights. Both will be enforced by instruments of the State, both will be applied by our Courts – and both will be rejected by Australia’s perpetually whining conservatives.

    Yours is better than the one being proposed (in my view anyway) but don’t kid yourself – it is still a BoR. Your desperate attempt to portray your preferred Bill as somehow not an instrument of the State is amusing.

    I’m sorry to tell you this, SB, but any support for a BoR identifies you as someone who wishes to define and then enforce state morality (in this case your belief in freedom of speech).

    I completely agree with your preferred model BTW – I just think it’s funny to watch you trying to distinguish your State-enforced morality from others.

  24. JWH sounds like me in the good ol days. Everyone knows that worked out well.

  25. Mondo:

    it’s funny to watch you trying to distinguish your State-enforced morality from others.

    Now you are being willfully obtuse.

    To say that both positions require rules is trite. One rule prevents you from being dicked over whereas the other requires precisely this outcome.

    You are equating a rule which guarantees particular freedoms with one which explicitly negates them.

  26. you just don’t seem to be able to grasp the difference between enforcing state morality and creating the space so individuals can choose their own morality as they see fit. – SB

    The rant du jour is libertarian with a dash of denialism.

  27. You are equating a rule which guarantees particular freedoms with one which explicitly negates them.

    Perhaps, but if I am then I’m far from the only one.

    John Howard has clearly done the same, as has the Quadrant audience, and as have all those who share his view that a BoR is ‘elitist’ in principle. These people don’t care what rights you enshrine into law – they object to you enshrining any rights into law. I have yet to see you accept this clear fact.

    In this sense your BoR proposal is ‘elitist’ to a large section of the population. You may believe that the rights you are codifying will bring greater freedom to the people, but many clearly disagree – they want the Parliament to have supreme authority in relation to this issue.

    I actually agree with your view that freedom of speech must be protected at all costs in any BoR, and that it should not be watered down for any reason. The difference between us is that I accept that this will be seen by many as an elitist position.

    You, apparently, refuse to do so.

  28. Mondo:

    v I have yet to see you accept this clear fact.

    Is that your point? This is simple:

    A BoR that has a strong guarantee of free speech, and due process protections would be a very good thing. Any BoR that compromises either of those things is likely to cause more harm than good.

    So my preference is for a sound BoR and, failing that, to keep the status quo until people are ready to back a sound BoR through a referendum.

  29. Is that your point?

    Urgh – no.

    But you’re not getting it so I’ll leave it there.

  30. OK, Mondo. I did try. Maybe I’m being obtuse?

    While on the subject of free speech, hopefully any type of BoR would stop this sort of censorship!

  31. SB, I suspect you have linked to a gigantic beat-up, particularly as material from all parties will be vetted by Dept of Finance chappies and chappesses.
    There’s a chance it may be rorted by the govt of the day, but when the coalition next occupy the treasury benches they will have the same opportunity. And nobody is censoring the material members themselves pay for.

  32. Zoot, I am in Ruddock’s electorate, so I can’t really expect sense from my local memeber, but I have sent a question off from an ALP MHR I know trying to get at least get their spin on it.

    Communications between members and their electorate should be not interfered with, even if it is paid for by the MHRs’s allowance.

  33. Ruddock’s your member? You poor bastard.

  34. Communications between members and their electorate should be not interfered with, even if it is paid for by the MHRs’s allowance.

    That story you linked to was taken leapt upon by Piers Akerman (indicative it’s fishy), and was debunked here.

  35. Communications between members and their electorate should be not interfered with, even if it is paid for by the MHRs’s allowance.

    So you think that sitting members should be given a taxpayer funded advantage over their democratic opponents? How unbelievably undemocratic.

    What else SB? Maybe we should give all sitting MP’s free air time on the ABC to run their re-election commercials? Don’t worry about any critics of such a scheme – you can just accuse them of hating free speech.

  36. MPs have an electorate allowance so that they can communicate to the citizens they serve. You may wish to reconsider whether they should receive this allowances at all, but it is wrong to have the allowance only if it used as a tool of government propaganda.

    Apart from anything else, the executive should not be dictating to members of the legislature how the legislature communicates with the public.

    Maybe we should close electorate offices, because who knows, they may also criticise government policy in those places as well!

    This is of a piece with the Rudd/Bracks attempt to stop principals of schools which received Commonwealth grants from criticising the policy.

    The fact is that the new breed of image-driven politician has no respect for free speech. They should be kicked into a urinal and pissed on by the public they routinely royally screw. Like trough-man, they’d probably enjoy the experience.

  37. Sometimes, SB, you remind me of just how dishonest you are.

    You may wish to reconsider whether they should receive this allowances at all, but it is wrong to have the allowance only if it used as a tool of government propaganda.

    This is simply untrue. As you well know the rule being applied is that no politician (of either party) can use their taxpayer allowance to engage in electioneering. The democratic necessity of this rule is obvious: to do otherwise is to hand all incumbents a taxpayer-funded advantage over their opponents. But this inconvenient fact undermines your sanctimonious outrage, so I expect that you will refuse to even recognise it.

    To be perfectly clear there is no requirement that the allowance be used to promote the government – you’re simply vomiting deliberate and deceitful nonsense on to the page. Anything to win the argument eh SB – even sinking as low as deliberate spin and obfuscation.

    the executive should not be dictating to members of the legislature how the legislature communicates with the public.

    Jesus SB – your desperation gets worse and worse. Nobody is trying to ‘dictate’ anything of the sort – the legislature remains completely free to communicate with the public in any way it sees fit. Your comment is utter garbage and you know it.

    You’re really showing your true colours with this post SB. You stand shoulder to shoulder with Piers Ackerman in your willingness to simply make up lies in order to push your point of view and attack Labor.

  38. Mondo, you always misunderstand my motives.

    This is a simple issue. Parliamentarians are given money to communicate with their electors. However the Auditor-General has recommended that government perks not be used for personal, party or electioneering purposes. All very reasonable. No one has a problem with banning government expenditure on how to vote cards.

    However Rudd’s personal ass-clown, Special Minister Ludwig, has decided that ‘electioneering’ can include the quoting of Hansard, or the describing of government actions as ‘mismanagement’.

    So now the taxpayer must pay for the government to erect signs in schools proclaiming its munificence, which signs are required to remain in place until after the next election. Meanwhile a humble backbencher who who wishes to explain to their electors the true nature of this behaviour (i.e. ‘corruption’, fruad’, ‘abuse of power’ or even just ‘a gross mismanagement of public resources for the purpose of gaining an electoral benefit’) will have their electorate newsletter censored by some bureaucrat.

    I’m surprised they don’t want to bug politicians’ offices to make sure no electioneering goes on in them.

    This is clearly a policy designed to limit criticism of the government, rendered necessary by the new generation of glass-jawed narcissists like Rudd and Obama.

  39. Mondo, you always misunderstand my motives.

    Honestly SB – I couldn’t care less about your motives, it is your methods that are objectionable.

    Your post above clearly highlights that you understand what the new law is and does, and as such you are effectively admitting that you made your case through the following deliberate deceits:

    1. You implied that the rules would limit MPuse of their printing allowance to government propoganda only (in fact, the legislation prevents use of the allowance for propoganda purposes).

    2. You implied (and continue to imply) that the legislation ‘dictates’ what MPs can say to their electorates (in fact, as you’re well aware, they’re free to say anything they want – they just can’t use their printing allowance to pay for elctioneering), and

    3. As predicted you continue to ignore the actual purpose of the legislation (i.e. levelling the democratic playing field) in favour of some cartoonish straw-man purpose that you have simply invented (and somehow dragged Obama into for crying out loud).

    These are massive distortions of the truth SB – distortions designed (by you) to trick the reader into believing something that’s patently not true. They are, in effect, lies told to make it easier for you to make your case.

    It’s dishonest, and no matter how much one might agree with your motives your use of trickery and deceit to make your case puts you in the company of some of our most apalling ideologues (from both sides of the divide).

  40. Mondo, the fact is that you are nit-picking rather than dealing with the evil nature of these changes.

    You know that the new rules will practically limit the ability of parliamentarians to criticise government policy to their electorates. Instead of looking at the way the government has unreasonably extended the meaning of ‘electioneering’ you adopt the word itself like some mindless zombie, moving forward in glassy-eyed ignorance as though nothing is wrong.

    And I didn’t ignore the actual purpose of the changes. In fact I said that the idea of implementing the Auditor-General’s recommendations was ‘all very reasonable’, but by that stage you were off with the zombies, no doubt having feasted too long on the fecal treacle dribbling from our Dear Leader’s buttcrack.

  41. You know that the new rules will practically limit the ability of parliamentarians to criticise government policy to their electorates.

    Utter nonsense SB – as I have come to expect from you.

    The new rules limit the ability of parliamentarians to use their parliamentary allowances to pay for materials that criticise government policy. They also limit the ability of parliamentarians to use their parliamentary allowance to criticise the opposition – but I guess that fact is a bit inconvenient to your hysteria.

    The truth is that all Australian politicians remain free to criticise government policy as and when they want. Your continued efforts to beat up a dishonest scare campaign around this issue are transparent and pathetic.

    If your argument is that the rules are necessary, but have been poorly drafted such that they can be used as a weapon againt the opposition, then for God’s sake make that case. It’s a damn interesting question and one that I’m sure many here would be interested in discussing and participating in (I certainly would). Moreseo – I reckon you’d find a groundswell of support here if you could sensibly make the case that the rules have been drafted to allow misuse.

    But instead you insist on wasting our time with hysterical scaremongering, conspiracy theories and your standard boring abuse.

    Way to contribute dude.

  42. Here’s my theory, Mondo:

    The printing and communications allowance is available to parliamentarians to communicate with their electors.

    Communications with electors may involve discussion of the affairs of parliament and the actions of the government.

    It is legitimate for parliamentarians, when discussing of the affairs of parliament and the actions of the government, to be critical of such matters. For example, a member may think that the handling of refugees making there way to Australia amounts to mismanagement, and is disgraceful. The member may wish to draw electors attention to relevant passages of Hansard.

    You think that for a parliamentarian to send out a note to constituents making any of the above comments, or attaching Hansard needs to be vetted by a public servant before it goes out and it is perfectly proper for rival politicians to see it in advance of it being sent.

    I think this is ridiculous. As I noted earlier (in a comment you studiously ignored), it the Auditor-General has recommended that government perks not be used for personal, party or electioneering purposes, and this is reasonable. The vice isn’t in the concept of limiting use of the printing and communication allowance per se, but in the decision to pre-vet these communications in a way that gives prior access to both bureaucrats and ministers, and particularly in the view to define criticism of the government as electioneering, resulting in the banning of words like ‘mismanagement’ and even in some cases extending to the reproduction of Hansard.

    A more sensible approach would be to ban matters directly relating to elections, such as how to vote cards, and material directly soliciting votes, and expressly permit criticism of government policy and actions. Pre-vetting by bureaucrats is insane and should be abolished in favour of clear rules.

  43. You think that for a parliamentarian to send out a note to constituents making any of the above comments, or attaching Hansard needs to be vetted by a public servant before it goes out and it is perfectly proper for rival politicians to see it in advance of it being sent.

    I categorically reject this SB. I believe no such thing and nothing I have said logically leads to this conclusion. You continue to willfully misrepresent the ‘pro’ position in relation to this issue in order to make it easier for you to attack it. It’s dishonest and it completely undermines you.

    Just so that it’s crystal clear: the pro position believes that it is appropriate for such a note to be vetted if the politican wishes to use taxpayer funds to send it out. If they don’t want to use the public purse then they’re free to send out anything they want, to anyone they want. Please don’t even bother responding unless you are prepared to recognise this basic fact.

    A more sensible approach would be to ban matters directly relating to elections, such as how to vote cards, and material directly soliciting votes, and expressly permit criticism of government policy and actions.

    Oh my God. Finally a rational comment SB.

    If only you could have said something like this up front.

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