Over the past few years Janet Albrechtsen of The UnAustralian has regularly turned puce decrying supposed ALP attacks on Freedom of Speech: Conroy’s proposed media regulation and Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act under which Bolt was convicted have been her hobby horses. Here, Janet gives both a run while exalting incoming Federal Attorney-general George Brandis as the champion of the LNP defence and recovery of Albrechtsen gold-standard Libertarian free speech.
Brandis understands something his Labor predecessors apparently didn’t: fundamental human rights are the birthright of every human being, not legislative gifts bestowed on us by government. His aim is to reposition freedom, and in particular freedom of speech, at the heart of the human rights debate.
Not Allowed to Say One Word
JA must surely then be disgusted that Brandis’ commitment to Freedom of Speech does not extend to allowing LNP election candidates to say what they think to their electorates during election campaigns. Here’s the defeated LNP candidate for Fowler (South-West Sydney metro), Mr. Andrew Nguyen describing how his Freedom of Speech birthright was stripped from him by Tony Abbott, Peta Credlin and George Brandis
DEFEATED Liberal candidate Andrew Nguyen says his party’s strategy of gagging candidates showed “no respect” for voters and sabotaged the Coalition’s chances of making inroads in southwest Sydney.
Breaking his months-long silence, the 74-year-old candidate yesterday said Liberal Party headquarters even banned him from speaking to the local ethnic press or SBS radio, for fear of derailing Tony Abbott’s broader campaign. Mr Nguyen, who endured a 9.5 per cent swing to Labor’s Chris Hayes in the seat of Fowler, said:
“Even when the Vietnamese newspaper wanted to interview me, Chris Hayes said a lot, Chris Bowen said a lot, but I was not allowed to say one word,” he said.
Not allowed to say one word. Wow.
Inalienable Birthright For The Right-Born
Brandis and Albrechtsen must have temporarily forgotten that Nguyen’s freedom of speech, pace Albechtsen, is not a party-political gift bestowed on him by the LNP executive, but an innate and inalienable right attached to his very humanity – his very birthright. Both GB and JA are notably silent at this transgression and restriction at the throat of liberal democracy. Does Bolt has a better birthright than Nguyen ? He certainly must if measured by outraged column inches by JA or in vocal statements of principle by GB of which Nguyen apparently warrants zero but Bolt an unlimited supply.
Look its obvious: Nguyen’s right to free speech is trumped by the transient interests of power (for the right people) of whom GB, JA and Bolt are variously servants and recipients. Nguyen’s rights are dispensible. Bolt’s are not because Bolt is the superior, more articulate, more influential guarantor of power.
That is why the LNP executive were quite happy for Nguyen to take out a $300,000 mortgage on his home to personally fund a LNP campaign in a practically unwinnable seat, but locked him into solitary confinement when it came time for Nguyen’s right to speak. Nguyen may embarrass power. Then again he may not. But he may. So Nguyen had to be silenced. Tell me again JA how many rights Nguyen has.
Andrew Nguyen has claimed that Tony Abbott’s campaign staff physically escorted him away from an appearance by the then opposition leader in Liverpool during the third week of the campaign.
To my knowledge Planet Janet has not come to orbit on the LNP denying Freedom of Speech to its candidates during an election campaign, even though apparently, as JA puts it:
One of the most fundamental changes promised by a Coalition government goes to the heart of what it means to live in a liberal democracy [and that is] … freedom, and in particular freedom of speech
Quite plainly Janet’s outrage and principle is selective; so is that of Brandis, her champion. It would not be hard for JA to discover that Nguyen was gagged. Nguyen’s story appeared in her own newspaper with a large photograph under the headline Liberal candidate gagged by Party HQ.
Janet must also know, but weirdly is silent upon the similar / gagging of Jaymie Diaz in Greenway, indeed the systemic removal of LNP candidates from questioning by the public in Western Sydney electorates and as for Ron Delezio, LNP candidate in Watson
party strategists directed star candidate Ron Delezio to flee a public debate after learning media were present
Free Speech. Janet is adamant it should never be stifled:
placing free speech at the heart of the human rights debate also helps lift the … stifling, political correctness that has enveloped us these past six years.
But if her mates deny that right of Free Speech during an election, Janet will stay obediently silent. That’s hypocrisy.
I agree with Albrechtsen that Section 18C of the Racial Discrimination is a very poor law, inicimal to Human Rights and should be repealed. It was a shocking error by Roxon and the ALP. They were completely misguided to bring it to law.
But Bolt’s problem was not this law, but his negligence of the facts. He accused people of things they didn’t do. Said they were frauds when they weren’t. It was an open and shut case of Defamation if the complainants wanted to take it that way. I haven’t heard Janet admit these facts, though.
Same with Conroy’s proposed changes to Media Regulation. JA has never commented on the fact that Murdoch owns 67% of Australia’s newspapers, or considered that this domination is in itself an impediment to free speech and diverse viewpoints.
If you want argue a principled position, Janet, have some (consistent) principle.
To start with let’s see you take the LNP to task over gagging its own candidates during an election campaign. And why did they do that. For power. As Nguyen said:
because they didn’t want to damage the election campaign; I agreed, and that’s why I shut up.
Gagging free speech for reasons of power. That’s the classic approach of totalitarianism. Janet ?