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BILL OF RIGHTS September 26, 2005

Posted by wmmbb in Category to be ascribed.

Today in The Sydney Morning Herald, James Allan, a Canadian, who is Garrick Professor of Law at Queensland University, argues against an entrenched bill of rights, as latterly Canada and New Zealand now have in place.

He contends:

The case against bills of rights in a successful liberal democracy comes on many fronts but at core it is that these instruments undercut citizens’ participation in social decision-making. They transfer too much power to unelected judges. . .Without a bill of rights in place, these difficult, debatable social policy lines are drawn on the basis of elections, voting and letting the numbers count. With a bill of rights in place the unelected judges decide – though ironically they, too, decide by voting; four justices’ votes beat three. Victory does not go to the judge writing the most moving judgement or the one with the most references to moral philosophy.

One wonders whether Professor Allan is fully aware that elections, if the House of Representatives is considered, are decided by those relatively few marginal electorates, and these contest are decided by the notorious swinging or undecided voters. All the other electorates are pretty much done deals with the representatives decided by the party machine, and the designated representative often arriving by parachute so as to save the locals from themselves. The swinging and undecided voters in the marginals become the key players in elections, carefully subject to focus groups and all the other tactics, appeals and embellishments of the modern election game. The rest of us are mostly irrelevant providing the numbers which gives the pretence a discourse about public policies has taken place.

Start reading about the electoral process, and it is sure to get you going. I wish I could share Professor Allan’s confidence in single electorate “voting and letting the numbers count”.


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