Bleats

The Basic Human Rights We Don't Actually Have In Australia

Win your next internet argument with these three loopholes in Australia's right-tapestry!

The whole notion of “human rights” has fallen out of vogue in Australia over the last few years, as befits a country with an offshore detention regime that no-one seems to enjoy thinking too hard about.

And often rights are framed either as the work of whinging snowflakes demanding their feelings be honoured, or aggressive nutters demanding that they be allowed to impose their opinions on others.

But the fact is that Australia has some weird blind spots in the rights-sphere, some of which are things that you might reasonably have assumed were settled.

OK, we need to talk.

You probably know, for example, that your right to access an abortion is very conditional and differs from state to state. But there are other things which Australians tend to assume is covered and might be a little surprised to discover is actually not a thing.

Here’s a fun one: freedom of speech.

The internet is full of people furious about how infringed they are, but if they’re Australian then they don’t have it to be furious over. Sorry.

Now, there’s an implied freedom of speech based on legal precedents, but you don’t have an absolute right to say whatever you like. And that implied right is limited by all sorts of things, like hate speech laws and laws governing fraud and offensive behaviour and privacy laws and so on.

Oh, speaking of which: you don’t have a right to privacy in Australia either.

Not in Australia, Doris.

Again, there are laws that touch on it – privacy of your personal information, for example, is covered (inadequately) by several bits of legislation, states have different laws on recording phone calls, and it’s illegal to open someone else’s mail, but there’s no particular “right to privacy” you can invoke when, say, your Medicare information turns up on the Dark Web.

Also, there’s no “right to the person” – in other words, you can be wrongly detained and have very limited avenues for recourse.

Your right to succulent Chinese meals is also a grey area.

Again, you can see why this might not be something that governments are keen to enact with the whole detention thing, but it’s led to some horrendous miscarriages of justice. Most notably with the case of Cornelia Rau, who suffered from schizophrenia and was held in immigration detention for ten months despite being an Australian citizen.

Now, it’s worth making clear that these things could be addressed through legislation in parliament rather than creating a Bill of Rights which would constantly be argued in the courts. And it speaks volumes for how good we have it in Australia that these cases don’t come up especially often.

But next time someone accuses you of denying their freedom of speech, then… well, you know what to do.

The Fancy New $50 Note Has A Big Ol' Typo On It

And this is why we need to install spellchecking software in ATMS.

You know when you make a typo in something and don’t notice until way after it’s been published? We do. And so do the Reserve Bank.

It turns out that the shiny new-look $50 issued last October featured a reproduction of the debut speech of Edith Cowan, the first women elected to an Australian parliament (in WA, fact fans).

Only it’s unlikely that in said speech she really did make multiple references to responsibilty”.

It’s taken over six months for anyone to notice, mind, which is either a searing indictment on the literacy of the Australian public, an accurate reflection on how few people look at their money with microscopes, or just sad evidence of how rare it is for Australians to hold a whole fifty dollars in their hands.

Mind you, at the time of the release treasurer Josh Frydenberg announced that the new note “ incorporates new, innovative security features that further protect against counterfeiting.”

So maybe deliberate mis-spellings were one of them, as a way to weed out the more assiduous counterfeiters? We can only speculate.

Also, no.

The spelling will  be corrected at the new print run, making the current ones exciting collectors items – in fact, they’re already valued at $50 apiece!

But if you’re particularly angry about carrying incorrectly-spelled currency in your wallet, please note that we’re always happy to take those dumb notes off your hands. It’s the least we can do.

Australia’s Public Holiday Schedule Is A Hot Mess That Needs Fixing

With a little bit of tweaking, and the addition of plenty more arbitrary days off, we could fix everything.

Australia, we need to talk about our public holidays.

Sure, there are those who are scuttling away for ten unbroken days of time off with the whole Easter-Anzac Day alignment because they were smart enough to book in their three days of leave, but the mere fact that is a thing is possible just illustrates how lousy our system currently is.

Let’s have a look at the way things are currently arranged. And the short version is that it’s frontloaded like an album that opens with all the singles and then has nothing but songs by the drummer.

Shut up about your stupid octopuses, Ringo.

Late December to January has too many public holidays. Obviously New Years Day has to stay, as does the whole Xmas/Boxing Day era, but the biggest argument for changing the date of Australia Day is that it just gives a short week right when we’re adjusting to being back at work.

Then February: nothing.

In March half the nation gets the second Monday off for Reasons, and that’s just confusing. And then April takes the cake with the Easter/Anzac glut. It’s a wonder any of us even turn up for the month.

Australia, mid-April

And after that?

Queensland and the NT get a day off in May, everyone bar Queensland and WA gets the Queen’s Birthday holiday in June, and then there’s nothing in July or August or September (except for WA’s showoffy Queen’s Birthday holiday).

In October Queensland take off a day for the Queen’s Birthday and HONESTLY WHY DO WE LET THEM DO THAT? And there are a handful of scattered dates for NSW and Victoria for horses and stuff, and other than that it’s nothing until Xmas.

Clearly Australia can do better.

With that in mind, here are my suggestions for how to fix things. We just add a few more holidays to the back end of the national calendar. And these are the obvious choices:

June 28: Burke & Wills Deathday – with the right marketing, it could be our own Cinco de Mayo!

August 12: Karl Stefanovic’s Birthday. Self explanatory.

September 14: Winx Day, celebrating the birth of our nation’s first horse PM

October 19: Kick Day, where every Australian plays the best INXS album and goes “you know, it really stands up.”

November 2: Queen’s Dentist Appointment Holiday. Look, it’s no more arbitrary than her birthday, and would be a great opportunity to encourage people to take their dental health seriously.

So, which party will be brave enough to take this platform to the election? Time will tell.

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