Once upon a time, Australia was a prison colony. Prison officers meted out orders and directions, and convicts carried out their prison sentences. Unfortunately, both the people and the authority in this place still live in the hangover of this dynamic. The people outsource authority outside of themselves wherever possible; hoping all of their decisions can be made for them. As for the authority; they still think they can do whatever they want, and for the most part, they get away with doing so.
But we are not convicts; we are human beings.
In jurisprudence, a Government only gains legitimacy from the consent of the governed. A Government’s job in relation to human rights is to uphold and defend them; not to give them and take them away. Our human rights are inherent to our humanity, not to our citizenry.
It’s called human rights; not humans with rights.
At “Covid Inquiry 2.0”, a cross parliamentary summit held in Brisbane in August, I spoke about Australia’s history as a prison colony, and how this dynamic bleeds into our Covid response. I spoke about the organisations in Australia whose job it is to defend and advocate for human rights. And I spoke about how, in the end, it is ultimately the people’s responsibility to stand up for themselves. That is the way it has always been. The full talk can be viewed below: