This essay has been prompted by some questions on an earlier post, and by the coincidence of material about free speech in the USA — or rather, the increasing lack of it. The First Amendment to the US Constitution states that Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances. Those who want Bills of Rights in our country usually want a version of that statement as one of the ‘rights’ to be protected in Australia. Section 116 of the Australian Constitution follows the First Amendment with respect to religion, but does not go on to provide for freedom of speech or of the press.

That First Amendment is, however, heavily qualified in practice. You would be in serious trouble if you relied on it in an American court to protect you if your freedom of speech had been used in connection with obscenity, fighting words, defamation, child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, solicitations to commit crimes and treason. You might win, and then again, you might very well not. Why? Because the freeness of ‘speech’ is not an absolute but a relative matter. It is more useful to be able to say that, for example, there is a wider freedom for speech today in the USA than there is in Australia (I think that is probably true), or that there was more real freedom of speech in Australia in the 19th century than there is now (I think also arguably true).

It doesn’t seem very helpful to me to say that ‘we need freedom of speech’ here, or that others think we do. I’ve written about that before. What sort of freedom is wanted? That would be my question. What do you want that you don’t have now? Let me give an example that has been talked about over the last few years — Section 18(c) of the Racial Discrimination Act. You may not, under that section of that Act, do or say something that is reasonably likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate someone because of their race or ethnicity. Section 18d, which follows, contains exemptions which protect freedom of speech to some degree. These ensure that artistic works, scientific debate and fair comment on matters of public interest are exempt from section 18C, providing they are said or done reasonably and in good faith. The Abbott Government wanted to get rid of 18(c) altogether, but eventually abandoned the attempt. It’s still there.

OK? You, the reader, might decide what you could say that would get you covered by (d) despite your words seeming to fall under (c). You might wonder whether being offended about anything actually warranted to full protection of Commonwealth law. After all, it is always up to us to decide whether or not we feel offended, whether or not we want to do anything about it, and what our response might be. And ‘offensive behaviour’ has been about for a long time. It is there in the common law, and policemen have often been found to feel offended when they have been called ‘mug copper’, and much worse. Some people find it offensive to be called ‘climate deniers’ when all they are doing is pointing to the inadequacies of popular theories. The Racial Discrimination Act is no help there. But why not? you might ask. Why don’t we have a much wider Act that covers all insulting or offending words? Think about it. I think it’s a minefield.

The point is, if you want real ‘freedom of speech’ you have to decide what it is you want to be able to say, and to whom, and where, that you cannot do today without fear of legal consequences. That is tricky stuff, and it is tricky in the USA, too (see above), where there is an apparent  Right to freedom of speech. When we want to add, change or remove a law we do not start off, ever, with a clean slate. Everything else is already there — an existing population, precedent, custom, history, current values, old values, and so on. What we want to do has to be fitted in to all that, and doing that neatly and effectively is difficult. Ask any politician. If we were somehow to start again, that might be different.

And somebody has had a go at just that. John Rawls, a philosopher at Harvard, published A Theory of Justice in 1971. It is another attempt at a social contract, but it has a novel wrinkle or two. Suppose, Rawls says, you are designing the rules that will govern a new society. You really will have a clean slate. You can design it how you like, and you will then live in it — but, before you do, you will be reborn as a new person, and you will have no control over what sex you are, your ethnic origin, your level of intelligence, the circumstance of your family, or anything else that is relevant to success in a human society. How would you then plan for the ground rules of the new society?

Rawls argues that rational people in such a situation would choose as much equality as possible consistent with as much liberty as possible, not one preferred over the other. Citizens in this new society would be able to vote and run for office; you would not have arbitrary arrest; you would have freedom of speech and freedom of assembly. Because skills and capacities would not be distributed any more equally in the new society than they are in any other human society today, the guiding principle would be that inequalities would be arranged so that they were to the benefit of the least-advantaged members of the society, and that offices and opportunities would be open to everyone. Sounds familiar? Well, yes, it is more or less what you get in a social welfare society like ours — a regulated market, a safety net, universal education, and so on. It doesn’t solve everything, but it is great improvement on what was the case a few hundred years ago.

Now for Rawls liberty and equality are of comparable importance, and it will follow from that value that my freedom of speech cannot be greater than yours, and in consequence you and I will need to come to some sort of agreement about how much freedom of speech (and how much freedom of anything) we can each enjoy if our freedoms are equally valid. That will mean that these freedoms are qualified, not absolute. The real and potential conflicts between citizens are dealt with through laws that arise out of particular cases and then apply whoever there is a comparable case. They are not dealt with by pointing to ‘rights’ that transcend everything.

I feel that I have only scratched the surface of this subject. It is both a conceptual bog and a verbal bog. And I haven’t dealt at all with what seems to be happening in the USA and to a perhaps lesser extent here — the limitation of freedom of speech through the action of citizens on other citizens, rather than by acts of the State. That will be for another time.

Join the discussion 133 Comments

  • Ross says:

    Well, Don, here we go again.
    Everyone agrees that there are no absolutes. We really do get that, Don.
    But if I am taken to court in the USA, over something I have said or written, I can argue that I have a right to free speech as written in the First amendment. The court has to take that into consideration before deciding my guilt or innocence. I have no such right in Australia. There is no right to freedom of speech, either qualified or absolute.
    I like that Americans take on these issues with gusto. Yes, they can drive you mad at times, but this sort of debate is the very essence of what it is to be an American. They wouldn’t dream of shying away from it, on the basis that they might get ‘bogged down’. I’m saddened that people such as yourself find it too hard, and actually go out of your way to warn people from even trying.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    It’s kind of you to point out the error of my ways. But did you notice that the First Amendment is no guarantee? In practice there’s not much difference., it seems to me, and I’ve lived and worked in the USA. Insults are allowed more easily there, but defamation is much like here. You’d better be right, and show that your statement was in the public interest! And the US also has laws that cut across the First Amendment — not in intention, but in consequence.

    I try to get people to think hard about issues that often pass almost unnoticed because of a belief that we all know…

    • Ross says:

      Don, I’m just trying to get you a right to freedom of speech (qualified as it may be). You keep knocking it back. Your choice, I guess.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    I already have a qualified right to free speech, as I have explained. I see no reason to suppose that a Bill of Rights that included one would actually give me any more freedom to say what I want to say, for the supposed right would be qualified as well. Such a Bill would come with an immense increase in legal trouble, as well. But if you think you will be be better off, go for it.

    • Ross says:

      Fair enough, Don. Once again we agree to fundamentally disagree. (It’s curious that we still seem to be the only two people discussing this. Just an observation).

  • Ross says:

    Hey, Don,
    I thought I would leave my last post hanging for a while, just to see what level of interest there was in your post, and my arguments to the contrary. Result; Total non engagement. (sigh))
    I thought there might be at least one post about ‘disagreeing with what I say, but being prepared to die for my right to say it’. But nothing. I thought this was a big issue. But I have to concede, I was wrong.
    It pains me to say it, Don, but I guess you win.

  • whyisitso says:

    18C is a totalitarian measure. For it to be illegal to “offend” someone is bad enough, but when the test relies on the “feelings” of the offended, the law belongs to Stalin.

    Bolt made a perfectly reasonable case against people who have a small fraction of their ancestry “aboriginal” receiving government grants and emloyment positions simply because of that small fraction.

    I see that we are now no longer going to be allowed to use the word “aboriginal”. We MUST say “indigenous”. This will automatically be included in 18C even without it being amended, because some individual only has to declare he or she ie “offended”. Then pow!

    • Ross says:

      Bolt actually told some unreasonable lies about ‘those’ people.
      I agree with Don, on this point. Tell a straight out lie, and even WITH the right to freedom of speech, you’d be in trouble. And fair enough too.
      But to the actual topic…
      Whyisitso, do you agree, with Don, that we have no need to the right to freedom of speech?
      If not, why not? If so, why so?
      It’s not a simple question, I agree. A broad brush will do for now.

      • whyisitso says:

        There were a couple of minor inaccuracies (NOT lies) in Bolt’s articles, but they were largely irrelevant to the so-called offence. Bromberg latched on to them in an attempt to justify his outrageous verdict, together with his taking exception to the “tone” of Bolt’s expressions. I don’t accept that Don maintains we have no need of free speech. Of course those of the left use the hackneyed example of “you can’t mischievously yell ‘fire’ in a crowded theatre” to impose their own highly totalitarian prohibition against any expression of views they disagree with.

        • Ross says:

          You don’t accept that Don says we have no need for freedom of speech? I don’t accept that either. I’m sorry you think I said that. That would be another of those ‘inaccuracies’ you speak of.
          I’m sorry if you think that advocating for your ‘right’ to free speech, is an example of the totalitarian left imposing my will on you. If you don’t want it, don’t take it, pal.
          Give my regards to Bolt, and I’ll let Stalin know you’re thinking of him.
          (God did I really wish for outside comment on this issue. Irony, thy name is Ross).

          • David says:

            Ross have you met Whyisitso before? Unreconstructed white male.

          • Ross says:

            No David, I’d have to say ‘Whyisitso’ is a new experience for me.
            Interesting.

          • Don Aitkin says:

            I don’t accept it, either. I said that I saw no need for a Bill-of-Rights style ‘Right to Freedom of Speech’, for the reasons I gave. We do need freedom of speech, provided that it applies to everyone, and that such freedom would not allow us to tell lies in order to gain a benefit, wrongly defame another, and so on.

        • David says:

          Whyisitso

          It would be a mistake to think that it is only the “left” who embraces censorship. For example a 16-year-old Lebanese immigrant, was arrested and jailed for seven months for stealing an Australian flag from the Brighton-le-Sands Returned and Services League of Australia (RSL) club and burning it.

          But no one has ever accused you of intellectual balance, when it comes to these things.

          • whyisitso says:

            “It would be a mistake to think that it is only the “left” who embraces censorship.”

            At last – an admission by a leftist that the Left does embrace censorship.

          • David says:

            “It would be a mistake to think that it is only the “left” who embraces censorship.”
            At last – an admission by a leftist that the Left does embrace censorship.

            Whyisitso, no doubt about it, you are deep thinker.

    • David says:

      “Bolt” and “perfectly reasonable” in the once sentence.

  • Ross says:

    Thank you for the post , Margaret. Holmes was amazing, wasn’t he? No conceptual bog man, he.
    It’s still a big wobbly wobbly, slightly scary concept, but this is what I was talking about when wrote about Americans courage in tackling the issue in all it’s moral and legal complexity. If we debate it and come up with ‘maybe not’, well, that’s we the people talking, at least. But to not go there because it’s hard and there are no absolutes, I think is weak. Maybe we are?

    • margaret says:

      I’ve admired this quote from him for a long while,
      “I think that we should be eternally vigilant against attempts to check the expression of opinions that we loathe…”
      But needless to say that is the beginning of the quote and selectively chosen as a full quote.
      It ends,
      “and believe to be fraught with death, unless they so imminently threaten immediate interference with the lawful and pressing purposes of the law that an immediate check is required to save the country.”
      It does complete any idealistic notions that the first part fosters.

  • David says:

    Don,

    Flag burning is illegal in Australia but protected by the first amendment in the United States. That Australian child did 6 months porridge under the Australian legal system that he would not have done in the USA due to his first amendment rights.

    http://blog.constitutioncenter.org/2015/06/inside-the-supreme-courts-flag-burning-decision/

    • David says:

      I bet you that child of Lebanese decent wishes the judge was wearing his Rawlsian “veil of ignorance” when handing down his custodial sentence.

    • Ross says:

      6 months? Jesus Christ on a bike,

      • David says:

        Yes 7 months it was. I was very surprised when I came across this fact. First saw it on a TV doco.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2005_Cronulla_riots

        • David says:

          He did actually steal a $200 item. But the Judge needed to pour himself a cool drink before sentencing.

          • margaret says:

            omg – then sponsored by the RSL to walk the Kokoda Track – re-education? Not good.

          • David says:

            Interesting observation Margaret. A bit like what happened to dissenters during the Cultural Revolution.

          • margaret says:

            I’m not against sponsoring someone of 16 to find their way to adulthood but it is such a pointedly obvious thing – absorb Aussie values – ‘you will assimilate’.
            And didn’t they get it back to front? Why six months jail first? When I see ‘Aussies’ actually wearing the flag I feel the desire to do some dissenting myself.

          • dlb says:

            Margaret, I saw Cathy Freeman draped in the aboriginal flag and thought good on her she is proud of her heritage. So what’s wrong with “ordinary Australians” wearing our current flag?
            You may be interested to know the Kokoda Track is a wonderful walk with wonderful people in the villages, well worth doing. I’d go back tomorrow if I had the time and money.

          • margaret says:

            That’s true dlb – the circumstances of Cathy’s flag draping are somewhat different though to strident patriots who don’t wish to share the ‘lucky country’.

    • David says:

      Ignoring facts that do not suit suit one’s argument and hoping no one will notice. I know of websites that do that with AGW.

  • margaret says:

    I think it’s all a bit ridiculous when little kids see through the national anthem and start singing “Australians all eat sausages ” instead of “Australians all let us rejoice” as anecdotally I have heard happens when school assemblies occur too frequently and insist on this Aussie Aussie Aussie affirmation.

    • margaret says:

      Is it “free speech”? I think it’s funny and payback for institutional propaganda.

    • Don Aitkin says:

      There’s also one you won’t like so much: ‘Australians all let us ring Joyce, for she is young and free…’ The school song was often monstered when I was a high school student. Not ‘God Save the King/Queen’, though.

      • Don Aitkin says:

        Now that I think hard about it I think there was one when I was about 8 or 9 — ‘God save our gracious King, put him in a box and tie it with string, God save the King…’

        • margaret says:

          : ) … seems incredible that we’re still symbolically tied to a ‘mother country’ well into a new millennium.

  • Don Aitkin says:

    We’re symbolically tied to all sorts of things. I don’t think of the UK as ‘the mother country’ any more than you (apparently) do. But it is certain enormously important in having affected the sort of country we are today. For practical purposes the monarchy seems to me to work quite well for us, as I’ve explained before, and it doesn’t worry me symbolically. Plainly you are of a different persuasion.

    The test would come if there were a proposal for a new flag, as has happened in NZ. Assuming the new flag were attractive enough, I might vote for it if it had the union jack on it, as does the flag of Hawai’i. I wouldn’t if it didn’t. You might well vote for it. Fair enough. That’s finally what democracies are about. If your flag won, I would get on with life. I’d not want to spend time and energy in getting the old one back.

    • margaret says:

      Our NZ friends told us in November that there wouldn’t be a new flag because a majority didn’t want the change – he was right – money not well spent, a futile exercise.

  • David says:

    ” I wouldn’t if it didn’t.”?

    Don are you saying you would only vote for an Australian flag if had the Union Jack on it?:

    • Ross says:

      The Union Jack is there to remind Indigenous Australians who’s boss. Not subtle, I agree. But effective. Why change?

    • Don Aitkin says:

      There are times when I think you must have reading difficulty, David, and this is one of them. Here is what I wrote: ‘Assuming the new flag were attractive enough, I might vote for it if it had the union jack on it, as does the flag of Hawai’i. I wouldn’t if it didn’t.’

      Just take the words slowly and think about their meaning — you’ll get there in time.

      • margaret says:

        I read that very carefully Don and I came to the same conclusion as David – that the Union Jack needs to be on any new flag before you would vote for it. That’s two people with reading difficulties.

        • Don Aitkin says:

          Yep. Three with reading difficulties. First, you ignored the qualification at the beginning (‘Assuming…), and then ignored the possibility in the verb (‘might vote’) and left both out of your new question. I have no idea what options I would faced with, so the caution is appropriate. But if I liked the look of a new flag, and it kept the Union Jack, and placed it attractively (e.g. not too tiny and not in a odd position), then I might vote for such a new flag. It’s not all that hard when you take it slowly.

          ‘Don are you saying you would only vote for an Australian flag if had the Union Jack on it?’ No, I am saying what I said above, which is a much more qualified remark than your terse rendition.

          • margaret says:

            Do you own a copy of Don Watson’s Weasel Words?

          • David says:

            Sorry Don, I will pay more attention.

          • Ross says:

            Hmmm…okay, Don. Whatevs.

          • David says:

            Australian Flag Design: I have an opinion, and here it is.

            I was in the US recently and after about 6 days I realized how much I missed good coffee or even just average coffee for that matter. Therefore, I would replace the Union Jack with a picture of a nice flat white, next to the Southern Cross. You can’t get more dinky di than that.

          • dlb says:

            Spoken like a true latte sipping leftie, David.

            I don’t know whether you are joking but I thought coffee was the drink of choice over there?
            I went to the UK about 15 years ago and what took my eye was all the advisements for tea. All rather genteel and reminiscent of a simpler less complicated era. If that is what the UK stands for I’ll gladly have the Jack on our flag.

          • David says:

            “Spoken like a true latte sipping leftie, David…..”

            DLB

            The Flat White is recognized as the “Australian” coffee, it will be on the Australian citizenship test. So that is why I would have it on the Australian flag.

            Yes the US drinks a lot of coffee, but not very good. Think England and cricket.

            ” …genteel and reminiscent of a simpler less complicated era” ?!

            Dlb you are not dead yet! You are a vital middle age man. Live life on the edge, chuck in your job, buy a sports car, go bungee jumping and ditch the Union Jack.

            Finally, I never joke about coffee. 🙂

          • Ross says:

            Seriously, dlb, the coffee is truly bad in America. Go there and taste the difference. Actually, go there and find a taste. Makes South Australian tap water almost palatable.
            They do have the 1st amendment, so perhaps I should forgive them for the coffee. Maybe.

      • David says:

        So that’s a yes. Gotcha. 🙂

        • margaret says:

          “… weasel words slew or complicate meaning”.
          “Bill Clinton’s, ‘It depends on what the meaning of ‘is’ is, lays claim to being in a class of its own” …

        • margaret says:

          To be precise dlb, David doesn’t drink latte … (also, if he did that would be warm milk).

        • margaret says:

          I think that’s what Bob Dylan meant when he sang “One more coffee for the road, one more coffee before I go – to the valley below” …

      • gnome says:

        It makes you think a bit though Don. Maybe we really don’t need all that much freedom of speech as long as we get a chance to vote on issues every now and again.

        All the polls told us that NZ would have a new flag, but the vote said something altogether different. Our indigenous recognisers might want to think about that before they press too hard for a vote on a constitutional change. already, the GBLTIQPM… crowd are having second thoughts about letting the common folk express their take on GLQBPTIM… marriage by way of plebiscite. What if the common folk don’t do as they are told when they get into the ballot booth?

        Meanwhile, Ross and David are still trying to work out if it is legal for you to express an opinion that you will only vote for a new flag if it includes a Union Jack. Can he be serious… is he having a lend of us…. is there an office we can report him to … surely no-one can be that politically incorrect and still be allowed on the internet…?

  • Neville says:

    Here’s another Kill the deniers fantasy play, funded by your friendly moronic ACT govt. Why should these lefty killing games be sponsored by the long suffering taxpayers? But these delusional drongoes surely love totalitarianism and violence. No logic, no reason, but they love their violence.

    http://joannenova.com.au/2016/04/kill-the-deniers-govt-funded-fantasy-play-where-guns-solve-climate-issues/

  • Neville says:

    Here’s another fun video showing the left’s idea of free speech. Someone doesn’t agree with you about your so called CAGW, then why no blow them up? These clueless imbeciles thinks it’s okay to fantasise about blowing kids up in the classroom, or assembly or on the sporting field.
    The sort of wet dream these group thinkers and morons would relish. Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot would be proud of them.

    • David says:

      I don’t get you Neville. You bemoan the ACT govt funding a play called “Kill the deniers” and then post this link to this “fun video”. Do you have a point?

      • Neville says:

        David I think Don’s correct , you have a problem of comprehension. I started sarcastically and believe me I don’t find anything funny about it at all. But just look at the smug relaxed way these moron actors select their victims and then blow them up. Doesn’t this type of stupidity worry you at all?

  • William Kay says:

    There is a new posting at http://www.ecofascism.com containing a list of 356 climate sceptical and/or enviro-critical websites; plus additional info on the enviro-critical community and its funders.

    • Ross says:

      Thanks for the link, William. What a fantastic site!
      It’s as if every anti environment, anti global warming, left despising, blog site was put in to a giant mix master and then poured out to produce this howlsterical gish gallop of hatred and stupidity. I recommend it to anyone interested in the topic. My favourite ‘piece’ was linking the nazis and environmentalism. (Look out, Don. Hitler was into town planning, as well. They may be on to you). Neville, Gnome, whyisitso, I think we’ve found you a new home! Thanks, again William.

  • margaret says:

    From Watson’s Dictionary of Weasel Words, Contemporary Cliches, Can’t & Management Jargon:
    Ordinary Australians (concerns of)
    1. Australians whose opinions are a measure of relevance and worth, including moral worth. If ordinary people are not concerned by injustice, or famine, or fire-blight in New Zealand apples, the media should not be concerned, and people who are concerned are not people who are ‘ordinary Australians’ but likely members of an ‘elite’

    • margaret says:

      2. A rather patronizing expression to describe not many Australians.
      ‘I don’t usually use the expression “ordinary” very often myself. I try to avoid using it, it sounds a rather patronizing expression.’
      John Howard, March 1999

      • margaret says:

        ‘Prime Minister : And I think Australians, I don’t like using the expression ‘ordinary’ … I mean we are Australians.
        Int : How many ‘ordinary Australians’ do we know – not many.
        Prime Minister : No, that’s right. We’re Australians. ‘
        John Howard, radio interview, October 2000

        • margaret says:

          ‘I mean, that is the sort of arrogant dismissal of the views of ordinary Australians, that many of them find disconcerting.’
          JH, Nov 1999
          ‘… to try and generate a momentum of hostility and concern about the impact of it on the lives of ordinary Australians.’
          JH, June 2000
          ‘… you suggest we are indifferent to the position of the ordinary worker.’
          JH, debate 2001
          ‘Coalition Government that has put more money, more disposal [sic] income, into the pockets of ordinary Australian workers.’
          JH, June 2001
          etc. etc. etc.

    • margaret says:

      That’s cant not can’t.

  • Neville says:

    Just a pity if those ordinary Aussies happen to be young Aboriginal children. Full marks to Warren Mundine for highlighting the ongoing sexual abuse of these poor young kids. Unlike the recent Royal Commission’s exposure of child sexual abuse the much more serious and prolific abuse of these aboriginal kids is hushed up. hidden and ignored.
    This disgusting state of affairs should have the full glare of the media spotlight thrust upon it. But don’t worry the left will fight tooth and nail to cover up for these scumbag paedophiles. So much for the RIGHTS of these kids.

    http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/black_lives_matter_too/

    • whyisitso says:

      You must be new to this blog, Neville. You don’t seem to realize that Bolt is always wrong even when he’s quoting someone else. Also Warren Mundine is also considered politically incorrect, despite his ethnicity. You must realise that Culture always supersedes the standards of the unreconstructed white male section of the community. You really need to consult David (see above) on these matters before you express a view.

    • Ross says:

      Neville, I don’t know any of the details on this, but it doesn’t look good does it. It has the look and feel of social and community collapse, with children being the most obvious victims. If anyone is brought before the courts on child abuse, you won’t find me standing in anyone’s way. Warren Mundine was Tony Abbotts hand picked advisor on Indigenous affairs. What were his recommendations on this matter? I don’t recall.

    • margaret says:

      It is shocking …
      I am aware of it.
      Remote aboriginal communities are dire places. Mundine is right to want the horror to be solved.
      It’s likely partly due to men and teenage boys with foetal alcohol syndrome and other dire problems that exist in these places.
      However, child sexual abuse also occurs in white communities across all social stratas in Australia.
      Such is the sickness of sex obsessed society.
      Joni Mitchell wrote a powerful song – “Sex Kills”.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    But as Germany and Sweden have demonstrated, all too convincingly, there are areas where speech is not at all free. Sexual predation by immigrants in those countries was deliberately hidden (this has been admitted). In good old oz, there were numerous reports of sexual abuse in detention centres, none of which, to my knowledge, was ever openly investigated, and no perpetrators were ever convicted. As Poirot might have speculated, this gives one furiously to think. Is it remotely possible that oz might have been in a similar situation to Germany and Sweden, and found the same, the simplest way out? Nothing to see here.

    • Ross says:

      Bryan. The Detention Centres are set up and run by our government. If you want to know anything that is going on there, I suggest you ask them. Get back to us when you know something. I think you’ll find the issue isn’t one of freedom of speech. Rather, one of freedom of information.

  • Neville says:

    Ross. Labor made a mess of our borders and made it very easy for people smugglers to quickly blow out the numbers. In fact over 50,000 risked their lives and about 1100 drowned during the terrible Rudd, Gillard years.
    When Rudd took over we had no boats for a long time and a handful in detention, but stupid Rudd wrecked all that in a matter of months. Of course all fixed again in a matter of months by the Abbott govt , again in a matter of months. Their ABC have announced this morning that there were no more kids in detention in Australia.

    • whyisitso says:

      You’re quite correct, Neville. By the way I know a Neville who has similar opinions to you. Does your surname start with P by any chance?

    • Ross says:

      If true, that’s welcome news. Good news.

    • Bryan Roberts says:

      The Europeans have almost explicitly acknowledged that Abbott’s solution is the only one that has a chance of working.

      • David says:

        Define “working”.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          Why.

          • David says:

            Why? Because “”working” is a subjective concept. Auschwitz “worked” Bryan. But was that a good thing? … I best not leave the question hanging. No it wasn’t. So while it may be possible to stop refugees from leaving Syria, we might want to consider the consequences and define “working” etc. So far about 200,000 people have died in the civil war in Syria. The geopolitical issues appear complex and I am not sure what the answer is. My own sense of it is that Europe should not be turning to a simpleton like Abbott for advice.

        • Bryan Roberts says:

          David, If you want to be an infantile troll, go ahead; just don’t expect other people to play your stupid games.

      • margaret says:

        Oh a glorious day for the Anglophile then.

  • Bryan Roberts says:

    margaret, a long, long time ago, I heard a joke that went like this. A large organisation had a printing press that had stopped. They called in an engineer, and explained the problem. He nodded, pulled out a hammer, and gave the machine a good wallop. The press resumed functioning, and he presented the organisation with a bill for $1000.10. Upon the shocked organisation querying the details, he explained “10c for the swing, $1000 for knowing where to hit”.

    Very few people these days seem prepared to acknowledge that some things work, and some do not. Vive la difference.

    Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
    Albert Einstein

  • Neville says:

    With the left you would be forgiven if you thought insanity was not too far off the mark. If we get the Shorten dummy later this year we’ll have an idiot co2 tax and our borders will probably be wrecked ASAP. Plus the budget will be stuffed for decades. The evil people smugglers must be smacking their chops just thinking about it. Oh and their ABC, Fairfax and Jillian Triggs will cheer them on. Barking mad the lot of them.

    • Ross says:

      “…The boats… The boats…”

      • Bryan Roberts says:

        Yes, Ross. “I’m Kevin, and I’m here to help”

        Little Kev and his multi-millionaire wife. How many ‘refugees’ are they supporting? If it was ANY, it would be on the front page of the Guardian. But no. Kev wants to be Secretary General of the UN, so he can rule the world.

        • margaret says:

          Thank goodness Julia was there to clean up the mess.

          • Bryan Roberts says:

            Oh yeah?

            Kev’s major achievement was to screw up a working immigration policy, and cost the Australian taxpayer untold billions. Yo really want this asshole in charge of trillions (not just billions) in pursuit of his ideology? Oh, did Julia clean up the mess? Not f***ing likely. She left it to the height -challenged successor, and wandered off to bask in the adoration of innocents who paid to receive an education, but will only get an indoctrination.

          • margaret says:

            Whoa … surprised at your freeness of speech Bryan.
            I’m no fan of Rudd or for that matter his wife, who it seems to me was able to become a millionaire through government contacts/contracts setting up her business to assist the employment of people with disabilities … off on a tangent there and may not have factual accuracy – nevertheless – how about this?
            http://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/apr/03/asylum-seeker-children-still-in-detention-despite-claims-all-have-been-released?CMP=soc_567

        • Ross says:

          Oh yeah??!!
          Getting a little tetchy now, Bryon. Not a good look for someone neither left nor right. If I didn’t know better, I’d think we had an angry Rightwinger in our midst. Can’t be you, though, can it?Must be Neville, then.

        • margaret says:

          There was a moment in his reign that Kev made me happy – he said sorry. It was a very moving day and for that I say thank you to Kev.

    • margaret says:

      Your imagination is running amok Neville.

  • Neville says:

    Sorry Margaret no need for imagination, just look at the data, the data. You wouldn’t trust these Labor donkeys to run a chook raffle. Fair dinkum.

  • margaret says:

    A quote (from a British parliamentarian I think) – “not all conservatives are stupid but all stupid people are conservative”.

  • margaret says:

    Ordinary Australians – politician speak for Swinging Voters I think.

Leave a Reply