The Conservative Party is all about freedom.
Leader Cory Bernardi said, “We believe that all Australians have unalienable rights, that successive governments continue to encroach upon those rights and it’s time to say ‘No!'”
That’s why the Conservative Party is introducing a Protected Freedoms Bill which makes the presumption that some basic freedoms have absolute protections.
“Governments need to justify why they’re taking our freedoms away from us, rather than us having to defend them. We want to reverse the onus of proof of our right to freedom,” Senator Bernardi said.
“They are freedoms like freedom of speech, freedom of thought, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of life, the right to personhood, freedom of conscience, freedom of religion, freedom from torture and retrospective rules. That’s the starting point that trumps other federal law and other state laws,” he said.
“That means that if government is going to take away some of those freedoms, it has to justify it through the legislative process. At the moment we have this subjective test which says you’re not free to say this or that because it might offend someone,” he continued.
“We have individuals in the media, Mark Knight from the Herald Sun, the QUT students, Bill Leak, Sonia Kruger, Samantha Armytage, Andrew Bolt – all have suffered for having an opinion, under spurious laws that are designed to shut down free speech,” he said.
“It’s all about the starting point – Do you have to prove that you have a freedom? The starting point should be that you have that freedom and people have to prove that you don’t have it because of legislative changes. A Protected Freedoms Act gives us that starting point. You can’t encroach upon these freedoms without justifying how it’s going to happen and why it needs to happen. It would make every parliamentarian think about the consequences of what they’re doing,” Senator Bernardi said.
“How is it that Bill Leak was taken through a tribunal process for drawing a cartoon? Can you image a parliament saying, you have the right to freedom of the press but you’re not allowed to offend a small group out there? The starting point is you have an absolute freedom of the press and if you want to take away the freedom of the press, you have to legislate and say that freedom doesn’t apply under defined circumstances,” he said.
And then it’s a matter for the courts to decide. Not for some whinger who gets upset and takes the matter to a tribunal. Governments are currently drawn into a very vexed position because on one hand they’re saying they want freedoms and yet some freedoms encroach upon others’ freedoms. So they’re called into this competing rights brigade.
Internationally the UN, for example is now having a conference on the right to migration, so that’s a right to choose where on the planet you wish to live – which infringes Australia’s sovereign border rights.
“The next election should really be about a referendum on freedoms because our country is becoming less free. It’s being choked under the yoke of bureaucracy and regulation and I think we’ve got to say these are the unalienable rights that all Australians should enjoy and then parliaments need justify why they’re going to erode them,” Senator Bernardi said.
Senator Bernardi has told Leon Byner on Adelaide radio station FIVEaa, Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has signalled he is resisting the UN’s push for a right to migration, but he hasn’t rejected it out of hand.