Senate debates

Thursday, 2 September 2021

Questions without Notice: Take Note of Answers

COVID-19: Hospitals

3:33 pm

Photo of Malcolm RobertsMalcolm Roberts (Queensland, Pauline Hanson's One Nation Party) Share this | Hansard source

Thank you, Madam Deputy President. I reference the response by the Attorney-General, Senator Cash, to my question on freedom to protest under the body of Australian law. Senator Cash fluffed on about what is in fact a basic element of our democracy. What she seems to have forgotten is that there is an overarching principle: the right to freedom is a basic inalienable right that our body of law has been formed around. Our laws reflect our Christian heritage and should always do so. Our governing document, our national Constitution, for instance, references God in its preamble. Without being presumptuous, and while I'm not a biblical scholar or a church-goer, perhaps I should have asked myself earlier than this a fundamental question: what would God do? It turns out that the Bible is quite clear on the issue of freedom. From Galatians 5:1:

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm … and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.

In this epistle, Paul was urging the new churches he had founded in Galatia to stand against those who were trying to subvert the freedom Christianity had given. Paul's epistle to the faithful in Galatia could have been written today. The battle between freedom and darkness exists now, as it did 2,000 years ago. We spent 2,000 years writing a body of law to implement Christian principles, including the right to freedom. These freedoms were first enshrined in Magna Carta Libertatum—literally the 'great charter of freedoms' that the leader of the church in England at the time, the Archbishop of Canterbury, wrote in 1215.

Our Attorney-General has demonstrated not only a lack of understanding of man's laws; she has failed to demonstrate an understanding of God's laws. Being sworn in on the Bible is clearly no guarantee of believing a word of it. While eminent biblical scholars advise that the Bible is properly understood in context, how could the Attorney-General not have looked this up at any time in the five months the senator has occupied her role? Five months of widespread and sustained media and social media conversations around the right to protest and the Attorney-General, the highest law officer in the land, was missing in action. Was she not curious about what the law actually said? Let me help on that in the time remaining. Magna Carta was written in response to King John exercising his powers, using the principle of vis et voluntas, which translates as 'force and will'—the making of decisions that were above the law and then using force to create compliance, much as parliaments around Australia are doing right now. Lord Denning described Magna Carta as:

… the greatest constitutional document of all times—the foundation of the freedom of the individual against the arbitrary authority of the despot”

I looked through Magna Carta and I couldn't see the COVID exemption that allows governments to destroy human rights and do whatever they want if they can get the population scared enough to accept it. Of course, there is no exemption afforded power-mad governments and unelected bureaucrats.

In 1948, before the UN turned into the problem and not the solution, the United Nations charter on human rights declared a few things on freedom of protest that parliaments around Australia are conveniently ignoring. Article 19 says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference …

Article 20 says:

Everyone has the right to freedom of peaceful assembly and association.

Article 21 says:

Everyone has the right to take part in the government of his country …

This is what protesters are doing: participating in governance, exercising their right to free speech and free association. That's the very definition of a protest. These are rights that article 30 of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights protects. It binds governments from breaching the declaration. It would appear that the Prime Minister and the premiers are seeking to wind back our right to freedom to that which existed prior to 1215, to give themselves the powers that King John used force to exercise.

Would the Attorney-General like to take another run at explaining why parliaments in Australia are not in breach of the very principles that define our legal system, the Bible and Magna Carta, reinforced by the much more recent United Nations charter on human rights? I wonder what Monica is thinking, languishing in jail with the promise that she can get out providing she renounces her membership of a political party. This is Australia in 2021. It's a disgrace. We need our freedoms back and we need an Attorney-General who understands the basics on which our freedoms are based.

Question agreed to.


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