February 2, 2012
If I heard it once, I heard it a thousand times. Australia, the advocates said, had an inferior rights record to Europe because all the countries of Europe were stitched up in its charter of rights. From Geoffrey Robertson, from Michael Kirby, from Susan Ryan came the argument that Australian law was falling behind other jurisdictions, all busily developing their human rights law precedents and specialisations.
And how do you explain the treatment of Julian Assange under European jurisdictions, that of the UK and Sweden?
The Swedish judge is prosecutor…yes, the two roles in the one officer, an outrage by Australian standards. The trial in Sweden was in secret, the public locked out. The charge includes rape but the sex was consensual. The victims have exchanged emails talking revenge and money.
Hang on. None of the above happens here. Would anyone disagree that Assange would be better off in an Australian court? In a system, that is, without a charter or a bill of rights?
I know the issue of the charter is dead here, with the ALP for the first time in decades having no platform commitment to a bill of rights and the Coalition having no advocate of a chart in its ranks.
Even those law school enthusiasts who supported the campaign might be given pause by this case which confirms that convention and common law and ethos in a country like Australia counts more than the bogus promise of a charter like in Europe.