Don’t Leave us with the Bill: The Case Against An Australian Bill of Rights

Don’t Leave us with the Bill: The Case Against An Australian Bill of Rights
  • Date: Monday, 25 May 2009
  • Author: Julian Leeser and Ryan Haddrick (eds)

Published in 2009, these 29 papers comprise a range of essays by Australians of different ages and backgrounds making the case against an Australian bill of rights.

Advocates of an Australian statutory bill of rights have attracted much air time in recent years. Five current or former governments (ACT, Victoria, Western Australia, Tasmania, and now the Commonwealth) have established and funded pro-bill of rights inquiries.

Yet there has been little organised intellectual opposition to these proposals. The purpose of this book is to join the debate and to make the case that a bill of rights is not an appropriate response to the issues facing Australia at this time. Those pressing the case for change have the burden of proving, not only that the current system is not working, but that their model for reform provides the best method of making the system work better.

The authors in this book are sceptical about whether a bill of rights can discharge these burdens. They include:

  • The Rt Hon Sir Ninian Stephen KG AK GCMG, KBE, QC, Foreword
  • Tom Harley, Chairman’s Preface
  • Julian Leeser and Ryan Haddrick, Introduction
  • The Hon Chief Justice Paul de Jersey AC, A Reflection on a Bill of Rights
  • Senator the Hon George Brandis SC, The Debate We Didn’t Have to Have: The Proposal for an Australian Bill of Rights
  • Julian Leeser, Responding to Some Arguments in Favour of the Bill of Rights
  • The Hon John Howard OM AC, Don’t Risk What We Have
  • The Hon Ian Callinan AC QC, In Whom Should We Trust
  • Professor James Allan, What’s Wrong About a Statutory Bill of Rights
  • Alan Anderson, Solomon’s Heirs? Dissecting the Campaign for Judicial Rule in Australia
  • The Hon Justice Kenneth Handley AO, Human Rights:  the Question is – Who is the Master?
  • Dr David Bennett AC QC, Principles and Exceptions:  Problems for Bills of Rights
  • The Hon Christian Porter MLA, Pluralism, Parliamentary Democracy and Bills of Rights
  • Ryan Haddrick, The Judicature, Bills of Rights and Chapter III
  • Professor Helen Irving, A Legal Perspective on Bills of Rights
  • The Hon Dr Gary Johns, A Charter of Rights will Harm Aboriginal Prospects
  • Major General AJ Molan AO DSC (Ret'd), Trust Me - It Will Not Be As Bad As You Think
  • Professor Geoffrey Blainey AC, A Chaos of Rights
  • Dr John Hirst, From British Rights to Human Rights
  • The Hon Bronwyn Bishop MP, There’s More To It Than Meets the Eye!
  • His Eminence Cardinal George Pell AC, Four Fictions:  An Argument Against a Charter of Rights
  • Rabbi Dr John Levi AM, Slaves Cannot Be Free – The Biblical Roots of our Rights
  • Brigadier Jim Wallace AM (Ret'd), Why Christians Should Be Concerned About a Bill of Rights
  • Amanda Fairweather, Ethics and Limits of a Bill of Rights
  • Felicity McMahon, The Human Rights Act 1998 (UK):  An Impossible Compromise
  • Trent Glover, The Devil in the Detail: Lessons from the ACT Human Rights Act 2004
  • Bill Stefaniak, A Reflection on the ACT Human Rights Act 2004
  • Ben Jellis, Look but Don’t Leap:  Lessons from the Victorian Statutory Bill of Rights
  • Dr Sue Gordon AM, Afterword

You can download a copy of the full text of Don't Leave Us With the Bill here, and see photos and watch footage from the launches of the book in Sydney, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

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