Sunday, December 26, 2010

Just who do rights serve?

In Australia there's a debate about bringing in a bill of rights. Opponents argue that a bill of rights would undermine the ability of parliament to pass laws in the national interest and transfer power instead to unelected judges.

Here's some very strong evidence that this is a valid concern. Australia is currently experiencing a mining boom. There's a particularly strong demand for our mineral resources in China. But the Chinese aren't content just to buy the minerals. The Chinese want the mines (and the farms) and are now even wanting to replace local Australian workers with Chinese ones:

HUNDREDS of Chinese contract workers will be brought to Queensland by mining boss Clive Palmer.

Mr Palmer revealed yesterday that up to 10 per cent of the construction workforce for his planned $8 billion coal development in the Galilee Basin of central-west Queensland would come from China. This fly-in contingent would number up to 600, many of them engineers.

The proposed coalmine, a 500km railway and port are being pursued by Mr Palmer in conjunction with the Metallurgical Corporation of China.

He said yesterday MCC would be the main contractor on the project, with three of its government-owned subsidiaries each having responsibility for the mine, the railway and the port. Each would sub-contract to Australian firms, Mr Palmer said, and he expected about 60 per cent of the work to go to foreign companies and 40 per cent to Australian companies.

MCC is also building Mr Palmer's $5.2bn Sino Iron project in Western Australia, and the magnate said the 60-40 division of operations on that project would be replicated in Queensland.

But Mr Palmer told a Brisbane press conference yesterday he expected about 10 per cent of the workforce on the ground in his Queensland project would be Chinese workers.

"In Western Australia, in our projects there, we've had something like 10 per cent who are Chinese people on site," he said.

"We've had 7000 workers, we've had about seven or eight hundred Chinese engineers who are directing the work. It would probably work out something like that" in Queensland. The three parts of the project are expected to generate 6000 jobs during construction and 1500 jobs when fully operational. A spokesman for Mr Palmer said after the press conference that much of the work would be prefabricated overseas.

Mr Palmer, the biggest political donor in Australia and an active member of Queensland's Liberal National Party, said the only hurdle to the project going ahead was the Queensland Labor government's approvals process.
What does the generally right-liberal Australian newspaper think of all this? It blames, wait for it .... low migration levels!:
We report today that Queensland mining boss Clive Palmer expects to bring in about 600 Chinese engineers to build his new $8 billion coal project in the Galilee Basin ... Low migration and tight labour laws have created the perfect storm ... Labor added to workplace rigidity and costs with retrograde industrial laws before adopting a "small Australia" approach to migration...

C'mon guys. Immigration is being run at massive levels, about 250,000 a year. You can't blame "low migration" for the Chinese bringing in their own workers to run things.

Anyway, it gets worse. David Marr is an old-style Australian left-liberal journalist, one of the "luvvies" as they are sometimes called. He gave the official human rights oration this year.

It's a curious thing, but the speech he delivered differs in one respect from that reported in the papers. What was reported in the papers includes a line that was left out of the official transcript. I'm guessing that he provided a transcript to the papers but then had second thoughts about this particular line and left it out.

And I'm not surprised he left it out. Because in the newspaper version of the speech, Marr complains that:
In 2010 there is nothing in law to stop Western Australia closing its iron mines to Chinese workers.

So David Marr, a left-liberal luvvy, thinks we need a bill of rights so that the Chinese Government gets to determine who works in our mines rather than our government. He wants to deprive our parliaments of the power to determine migration policy.

It's an attempt to lock in a liberal, individualistic, internationalist view of how things should be, to effectively place it beyond political contest. No doubt Clive Palmer and other mining bosses will be pleased, as will the Chinese Government. Human rights legislation will serve some very powerful interest groups seeking material gain, rather than ordinary Australians.

We should be wary of those pushing the rights agenda.


  1. I guarantee you there is not a single job in Australia that could not be done more cheaply by Chinese workers. So hey, let's make that happen! Starting with the journalists...

  2. You already have the 1689 Bill of Right.

  3. Right-liberalism and left-liberalism all lead to the same end. What type of economical structure do you propose a traditionalist conservative seek (one that does not destroy the values and traditions of a society)? A mixed economy perhaps? Or something else?

  4. Elizabeth, good question.

    I don't have an answer fully worked out. It would be a system that would try to harness the dynamism of the free market where that was helpful but in which the economy would serve society rather than the other way round.

    I don't think traditionalists can be purists when it comes to the free market. We can't, for instance, support the free supply of labour across national borders.

    Similarly, when it comes to housing we can't support the tendency of beautiful areas of housing attracting demand, leading to the profitability of demolishing homes to build apartments in such areas, leading to the loss of the original character of the area.

  5. David Marr is the sort to do that.

    The fact that the sanctimonious queer has not been chased out of Journalism tells us all we need to know about the general downward trend in journalistic quality over the last few decades.

    He is a liar, and what's more knows he is a liar and doesn't care.

  6. Mr. Richardson wrote,

    "It's an attempt to lock in a liberal, individualistic, internationalist view of how things should be, to effectively place it beyond political contest...We should be wary of those pushing the rights agenda."

    Excellent point. That's certainly been our experience here in the States. While I don't think many Americans would voluntarily give up the Bill of Rights, most of us know who gets the most mileage out of them. And it isn't the heartland.

    The concept seduces the little guy. He thinks of it as a last ditch defense against the big guys who would otherwise push him around. When I think of a man going on about his rights, I think of a caged animal. "Rights" are his last defense.

    It doesn't conjure up an image of a high-trust, informal, organic sort of society, governed by shared, internal restraints. It's the product of a mind like Hobbes', which imagines society to be full of mutually suspicious and hostile autonomous individuals, eternally on their guard against one another.

  7. Also, Mr. Richardson,

    In light of the Christmas War a few threads ago, I just wanted to say that I am not opposed to truthful criticism of America. I hope you don't feel like you should avoid offending your American readership. Our concept of a "bill of rights" (inspired by the English Magna Carta) was not perhaps our best export. I'm not convinced it's wholly useless, but who can deny it's been easily put to very destructive ends?

  8. First, I think it's disgraceful that anyone is still mining coal.

    Second, there's nothing wrong with having a Bill of Rights, so long as the rights themselves are of the correct kind: negative. Our own Bill of Rights was written by men who understood the nature of government, and that government tends to seek ways to expand its own power.

    Reading over the 10 amendments again, I find very little I myself would change. As America comes closer to naked tyranny, even the little-discussed amendments (no quartering of troops, trial by jury, no illegal search and seizure) reveal themselves to be quite important.

    I can't agree with Bartholomew's take that the Bill of Rights represents some Hobbesian nightmare, but rather the mindset of individuals who had much experience in dealing with real tyranny. I believe that the Bill of Rights played a large role in slowing the liberal infection in America as opposed to Europe. In England one cannot speak to the truth about Islam or own the means to defend one's own life without risking a prison sentence. While it cannot be denied that the government is currently walking all over us, that failure rests squarely on the shoulders of a decadent people rather than on the concept of the rights themselves. The fact is that Americans have allowed their rights to be dismantled in exchange for fat living, and it's about time to pay the fiddler.

    I, for one, am not yet prepared to give up on the Constitution just yet. The only fault I can find is that the Founding Fathers made too much implicit; I don't think they could fathom that the country would one day host large numbers of Moslems or lose its ethnic character. What they made implicit we must make explicit.

    Lastly, there's something like 250 privately owned firearms in America as we speak. That by itself is a reason for hope that Europe does not have.

  9. Make that unreasonable search and seizure. ;)

  10. Yeesh, and make that 250 million privately owned firearms. I'm going to plead lack of coffee.

  11. Marc,

    I really like Vladimir Putin's idea of "National Champions"

    You can buy his PHD and addendum online.

    I'm an American and this news is so upsetting to me. Bartholemew hits it on the head.

    An Ozzie said to me that you guys don't have a bill of rights because it's implied that the government won't fuck people over. I like that idea and that is what happens in a healthy society.

    I am one of the people who has given up on the Constitution. It's just a piece of paper. What is important is THE PEOPLE.

    Finding yourself clinging to the Bill of Rights means you've already lost the battle.

  12. Most people in Australia are fairly suspicious of a Bill of Rights because they know it tends to be championed by radicals. A bill of rights gives power to the Courts to interpret, whilst their absence gives more power to the democratically elected representatives. As long as we're generally well served by our democratic representatives we'll likely remain suspicious of an unelected ideologically driven small number of judges. In practice many of the rights are protected as part of our common law. The Bill of Rights at the moment really is only an elite concept with little carriage outside of that circle.

    The concept of a Bill of rights is fairly Hobbsian, in that we need protection against an overweening government. It is a little more than that though I think. As a concept it champions the individual and their inherent rights as the highest good in society. As was stated though there is a difference between negative and positive rights. The former is more likely to protect individual liberty while the latter is more likely to control society and government and direct it certain directions, eg the EU human rights charter.

  13. Certainly the UK Human Rights Act implementing the European Convention on Human Rights has been disastrous for the UK, and great for Left-Liberals. It has placed us under a judicial tyranny similar to that enjoyed by the US, but without any of the good stuff like free speech protection.

  14. I am not up on Australian politics so I am likely missing something obvious. It seems to me that the issue of rights and immigration are independent. With or without a "rights" bill, your government can refuse to issue visas to anyone it sees fit, unless you are going to go full retard and give everyone in the world a "right" to work in Australia.

    The original concept of the Bill of Rights in America was to limit the powers of government over the citizens. It has no authority WRT one citizen's relationship to another.

    Example: The 2nd amendment does not give each citizen the right to keep and bear arms. It restricts the government from creating laws that would prevent arms-keeping. Citizens are born without guns in their hands and government has no obligation to provide them or to subsidize prices so that the poor can afford them.

    In this modern day, you are right to be suspicuious about any attempt to create new "rights". The real arguments would revolve around the specific rights proposed, how expansive they were, and how they would be enforced or provided.

  15. China has done exactly the same thing in Africa. They bribe the political classes and then set up massive mines and other primary producers using all imported Chinese labor. The excuse has always been that they couldn't reasonably expect Africans to have the skills needed for complex mining.

    Good to see that Australia now ranks alongside African nations in the eyes of our worlds new rising power.

    We wanted everyone to be treated the same, now we get treated the same as Africans by Chinese who have watched us fall so far that they can no longer see the difference.

  16. Proffessor Hale,

    The two issues are independent but once people enter the country or become citizens then that's it they get them. We don’t have a strong Bill of Rights culture in Australia as we're more British. Now, however, we're experiencing greater immigration rates and we're also experiencing greater calls for a bill of rights. It seems an unhappy coincidence that just as our population becomes more diverse there is an effort to give greater formal rights to that diverse population.

    Lol on the "full retard" by the way. Nonetheless its certainly very possible for a country to lose control of certain issues and thereby not have the power to enforce them. Look at illegal immigration in the US, people seriously say that these people have a right to stay or become citizens and that its an injustice to send then back. They clearly have no such right but by a process of "drift" such a right can be created. We don't want a socially fragmented society in Australia that is propped up by a concept of greater citizen rights. Fewer rights please and a little more conformity and acceptance.