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Australian activist can't use encrypted apps, must let police access phone (abc.net.au)
445 points by adrian_mrd on July 31, 2022 | hide | past | favorite | 337 comments

After a discussion with a lawyer friend (not australia, canada, so tangentially related), the "presumption of innocence" that would not obligate this person to have or produce a key for whatever gibberish someone sends to their devices, is what's known in legal circles as a "principle of fundamental justice," and it is not a right that is either absolute or inaliable the way that american rights are set up.

One doesn't need to agree with the persons cause to recognize this is another extreme overstepping of authority on the part of that government to mandate that the people who communicate with the person subject to this order may also not protect their own commuications from interception, and that the person subject to the order must somehow produce a key for whatever data gets sent to him.

Given the cynical application of laws and their moderating charter exceptions in places like Australia and Canada over the last few years, I could forsee a new republican movement emerging in commonwealth countries, as it's pretty clear CAN/AUS/NZ have dispensed with notions of fundamental justice, and have a "so sue me," approach to legislation and governance, as this stuff is just too stupid to be reasoned with. The language means nothing, the principles mean nothing. It's no longer about tech, it's about what our options are when the state has demonstrated official contempt for the people it ostensibly serves.

The entire tradition of thought around natural law and limits on the legitimate scope of the state have simply disappeared in Australia so far as I can tell. Everyone just accepts that the state has absolute sovereignty and it can pass any laws it wants.

Commonwealth nations have largely devolved into illiberal elective autocracies with immense power concentrated in the PM's offices, minimal parliamentary autonomy (i.e. everyone votes on the party line), and no ideological constraints on how state power is used or abused.

I'm surprised that this is surprising to many people. Australia is a country that has had active media censorship going on for a long time.

Eg games work based on a whitelist. You need to get the government's permission to be able to publish your game in Australia.

Australians accept this. It's no wonder to me that they will accept even further concessions on their freedoms.

> You need to get the government's permission to be able to publish your game in Australia.

That sounds weird. I'm Australian and I've never heard of that. Can you share some links so I can learn more about that?



>Every film and computer game has to be classified before it can be legally made available to the Australian public, unless it is exempt or is being shown at a registered event.

If they refuse classification then it is banned.

The same has been the case in the UK for at least the last 20 years with games requiring BBFC (British Board of Film Classification) or VSC (Video Standards Council) [0] ratings.

As of 27th July 2012 [1] UK enacted a Statutory Instrument "The Video Recordings (Labelling) Regulations 2012" [2] ...

> From today, it is a criminal offence to sell video games with a “12” rating to those younger than that age.

... manadated VSC as the sole organisation...

> The new law ends the dual system, gives legal backing to PEGI 12, 16 and 18 ratings and will result in clearer, unambiguous guidance about the suitability of games content for specific age groups.

... with responsibility for PEGI (Pan European Games Information)[3] ratings.

> PEGI provides age classifications for video games in 38 European countries. The age rating confirms that the game is appropriate for players of certain age. PEGI considers the age suitability of a game, not the level of difficulty.

[0] https://videostandards.org.uk/RatingBoard/about-history

[1] https://www.gov.uk/government/news/new-rules-to-better-prote...

[2] https://www.legislation.gov.uk/uksi/2012/1767/contents/made

[3] https://pegi.info/

Is the outcome ever a refusal to classify them at all though?

I think even when some films (e.g. Clockwork Orange at first I believe?) were banned they were still rated by the BBFC, it was councils that banned cinemas from showing them locally?

The BBFC is a non-government organisation nevertheless required by the government to view and rate all films. Councils licence cinemas (originally for fire safety) and require cinemas to only show rated material to the public, but they also have a discretionary power to rate and therefore ban films themselves.

As an example, Life of Brian (1979) was only an “AA” (14 years+) but a moral panic made 28 councils raise to an “X” (18+) and 11 actually banned it completely.

(For clarity, a film is de facto banned when either the BBFC or a local council refuses to rate it. It can still be shown privately (eg at a film society) provided it doesn’t contain illegal material (ie it’s not obscene))

Yes, but what I'm saying is do they ever refuse to rate a film?

Life of Brian was another example I was thinking of, and as you say, same as I described there - rated, then banned.

Apparently so: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_works_rejected_by_the_...

I’m surprised by how long the list is; I thought it was much rarer and more exceptional. The only time I’d heard of them rejecting a film was when it showed unsimulated animal cruelty, but I guess there must be other reasons.

Huh, thanks for that. I had heard about requesting cuts now you mention it. (And this is also done to target a rating, if they want to get a 12A but as-is it's a 15 for example.)

I wonder if the ones never released are just because they didn't want to cut enough, preferring to abandon the project though.

> The only time I’d heard of them rejecting a film was when it showed unsimulated animal cruelty, but I guess there must be other reasons.

Porn, or rather it somehow going too far, seems to be a big one based on a lot of the titles there.

Some films are so grim that if they cut out all the unacceptable stuff there’d be no film left worth seeing. Porn gets an R18 rating - provided it’s not dangerous, violent, illegal or obscene - and can shown at specially licensed sex cinemas.

It wasn't banned in the UK & the BBFC passed it uncut. Stanley Kubrick himself requested it be withdrawn from distribution after some copycat incidents.

Same seems true here in Germany. I had to import Gears of War (1) from Austria because I wasn't allowed to buy it irrespective of Age.

AFAICT Gears of War was not banned but rather not allowed to be sold OR ADVERTISED to minors as is/was the case with most "violent" games. Only a few (e.g. the uncut version of Left 4 Dead) were ever banned from sale entirely. Of course the distinction is mostly theoretical as no store is willing to sell either games even with age verification.

That's not quite true. You are allowed to buy games without an age rating in Germany, if you are over 18. However, the burden is onto the seller to verify your age and it might not be publicly listed. So many resellers are not bothering importing games under these conditions, but they would be allowed to.

The same is true for Quake 3 Arena. They didn't meet the requirements for USK-18 (similar to pegi) at the time.

But I don't think that's a thing anymore because there outdated policys have changed. Video games aren't "new" anymore for a long time.

It looks like Australia is close to China not only geographically but also by the censorship practices.

It’s more that Australians don’t care about things that don’t actually mean anything, it’s accepted that the politburo will pass laws that are irrelevant and the general population ignores the ones that don’t matter

This has worked so far because we don’t have extremist police who apply the law to the letter- they themselves see laws as mostly suggestions

Except that, in practice, they are miles apart in what actually gets censored.

Not really. You can't discuss Australian war crimes openly in the media - this will get you shut down quite rapidly.

Something most people don't understand is that Australias' sovereign, the Queen, is used to keep embarassing state secrets well and truly out of the public eye. This is an intolerable state of affairs that will hopefully get addressed when she dies, and the Australian Republic movement gets fresh air under its wings ..

Australia has secret prisons, and a star court for the things it doesn't want the world to know. Witness J, K, L, M, &etc.

> Australia has secret prisons, and a star court for the things it doesn't want the world to know. Witness J, K, L, M, &etc.

So does america. I'm not sure how a republic movement could save australia from having these things when one of the largest republics in the world also has, e.g. hundreds of thousands of censored warcrimes on wikileaks and guantanamo bay

The US is a military junta masquerading as a republic. Presumably Australia's republic movement will address the issue of the corruption of the republic, eventually.

Pretty weird military junta that gives its opponents executive power every 4-8 years

.. puts its populist puppets in place, you mean. Just as it has done, with great success, in every sovereign country it has usurped in the last 50 years.

Odd that many of our recent presidents were not in the military, and that top generals are regularly fired by civilian government. The whole vote on everything all the time, even dog catch, thing seems like a real waste of time for a Junta.

The Junta has a trillion dollars a year to do whatever evils it wishes to the world. I don't think any of the generals are going to be butt-hurt about being fired, especially when the revolving door between the CFR and the JCoS is so well-greased with the blood of innocent people across the globe. The goal isn't local power, that is a done deal - the purpose of the junta is the projection of global power.

The proof is in the pudding: Yemen, Libya, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Nigeria, Somalia, Ukraine, etc.

A Junta is an oligarchy lead by a military council. The US literally has civilian rule, you're misapplying the term. Myanmar has a junta, the US does not.

>A Junta is an oligarchy lead by a military council.

The USA has exactly this, in the form of the revolving door that connects the Joint Chiefs of Staff with the CFR.


See also: https://s3.amazonaws.com/docs.pogo.org/report/2018/POGO_Bras...

Its figureheads give the impression of democracy, but nobody voted to murder 5% of Iraqs population - the generals went ahead and did it anyway.

Not OP but I think this is about classification which is done by the same office that gives movie ratings, etc. The way I understand it unclassified versions can't be sold via retail. The biggest stink was what happened to GTA with the Hot Coffee minigame.


This issue was brilliantly parodied by Penny Arcade back in the day:

> ESRB employee: "What about games with infinite replayability, or ones that include procedurally generated content?"

> Bureaucrat: "I don't understand anything you just said."


The state exists to perpetuate itself and its power, unless an outside force acts on it. That used to be the people, but increasingly the "machine" of bureaucracy has overtaken or subsumed democratic politics. It is not only in Australia. Chuck Schumer's grave warning sums it up well:


An elected president who is head of the executive and armed forces which include these intelligence agencies, would be foolish to "take them on", because they would "get back at him". The people no longer have the power to determine the way in which they are governed by democratic means (maybe they never did, but I'm lead to believe that elected politicians used to hold a bit more power a century or two ago). I expect it is a similar situation in Australia, it's not really the PM's office the holds the real power.

The swamp cannot be drained. Get over it.

"The entire tradition of thought around natural law and limits on the legitimate scope of the state have simply disappeared in Australia".

The problem is that natural law needs some source, this source has to come from somewhere and majority has to agree that they like the source.

For ages the source was obvious in "the West" - it was God all mighty armed with the Bible. Now God is gone, replaced with the believe that rational people will do much better job than some possibly made up person living in the clouds.

And it turned out that the source of the natural law is the government. In theory government is democratically elected, unfortunately democratic process degraded because of the modern manipulation techniques, social media that caused even further move from making election choices by using reasoning to emotions. Those who has money, they win, as all that political marketing costs a lot.

We live in the times of emodecmocracy, who can stir the emotions, attract in this way people wins, even if underneath they have ideas like censorship - obviously with the noble cause, to remove from discussion bad people, ale those anti-vax, anti-gay, anti-renewables, anti-reduce-meet-consumption, etc. people. Bad, bad people, but the law is the same for everyone and good people can suddenly become bad people if this suits someone's interest.

Now people are waking up since they have to give away the content of their mailbox on request of some corporations who happens to own a few MPs, judges and prosecutors.

There is truth in this, it increasingly appears that we've just swapped God for the state.

Even if the fall of religion was inevitable in the West, a source of objective values distinct from the state hasn't really emerged. "Human rights" conflict with each other, are subjective and overridden by the government at will.

It may be possible but philosophy needs to get its game on.

  > For ages the source was obvious in "the West" - it was God all mighty armed with the Bible.
which inalienable rights come from the bible?

Read the Talmud. Then proceed to read the Church Fathers through to the scholastics. Add Justinian for good measure.

The roots of (real) liberalism are all there in these largely theological treatises including the inalienable right of the people to revolt against the state when it becomes tyrannical (see Juan de Mariana).

thanks for the reply, its appreciated

but as someone who has only passing familiarity with those, is it possible to provide a list (for example) without having to read all those first?

Yeah seconded. I've been lucky enough to know the names from religious education, but if someone has actually done research to show how they eventually helped make British liberalism, I'd like to read that too.

But what I recall was the general idea that God alone was perfect, man is sinful and corrupt, therefore we should limit the power of the state as much as we can because of the extra powers it has over everyone else. The divine law being above worldly law, so even rulers have a ruler, and shouldn't become tyrants over their people. Those ideas, while not applied perfectly, must've had some influence.

Hi! This thread looks friendly and productive, so I'll bite :) Here are 4 core judeo-christian ideas that I find helpful on this topic:

1. Transcendent morality. If morality is to be resilient, it must transcend culture, preference, etc., otherwise it can be changed or over-turned as convenient. If morality is purely relative, a matter of agreement, then the concept of an inalienable right is not meaningful. Philosophy has tried to find a different ground for morality, as the parents mentioned -- but that has not been successful, and I don't think that it can be.

The judeo-christian perspective here is of course that moral standards come from God, thus they are absolute and transcend our opinions. More specifically, they are not "law" per se, but something deeper: They reflect God's character, which _defines_ morality. I.e., God _is_ morality. For instance, Love and Justice are core moral standards because God is Loving and Just, or more precisely, we learn what Love and Justice are by looking at God.

2. The _Imago Dei_. This is the idea that makes transcendent morality applicable to humans. Morality needs to be universally applicable in order to be sustainable, otherwise it's trivial to enact restrictions -- e.g., that it need not apply to the rulers, to Jews, to Republicans or Democrats, to Muslim minorities in China... The Imago Dei is the notion that humans are created in God's image, and therefore have inalienable dignity _deriving from his_. This notion is different from more utilitarian ideas that we have worth and dignity based on e.g. our intelligence, ability or so on, and is a prime defense against all kinds of "lebensunwertes Leben" (being the nazi phrase) ideas. Incidentally, this is also why Christians are so opposed to abortion and have been since forever (roman times and even Old Testament times): The idea that the worth of the baby is not dependent on their awareness, ability or whatever (which many disabled or ill people also do not have), but on on their humanity as such.

Historically, anything from due process to property rights has been argued from this: Much of it in Old Testament times, e.g. but by far not limited to the well-known 10 commandments, then much more in New Testament times, which was then expanded upon by the early church fathers and christian-influenced philosophy. The abolition of slavery and much enlightening thinking might well not have emerged in a different context.

3. Universal Sin. The concept that all human beings are fallen and in need of redemption is what makes morality and safeguards necessary in practice. This is the knowledge that there is no _inherent_ difference between e.g. nazis and me -- I am equally capable of such atrocities if left to myself. Therefore, ordered liberty is required - government, law, and institutions to guide and restrain us. The acknowledgment of Universal Sin promotes compassion, because no-one is intrinsically worse than me: This strengthens the practical value of the Imago Dei and weakens us-versus-them ideologies like nazism or intersectionality. It also both requires and limits government, since an effective form of government needs to take the sin of the government into account as well as that of the population. This is where separate branches of government, checks and balances, (mostly electoral) accountability and related ideas were derived from.

4. _Subsidiarity_. This is the concept that the smaller and closer the unit or relationship is, the more crucial and stable it is. This ties in to 3., because the effects of sin compound with larger and more abstract units. Sin also has much more pull if given more room - see Lord Acton's famous quote about power and corruption :) I.e., it's much easier to be compassionate and efficient towards a wife or neighbor than towards "Comrade nr 25556 of the district of Eurasia". This idea has led to a strong emphasis on the family, neighborhood and local church as core institutions where the primary "government" is better placed, as opposed to a large and anonymous bureaucracy. This is were representation, federalism, small government and related ideas come from, and incidentally, why I find the US Constitution as intended far superior than the direction American politics has taken in the last 100 years (big government, bureaucracy, centralization, homogenization).

I hope this helps you understand me a bit, I'm looking forward to continue this conversation! :)

thanks, i appreciate your taking the time to respond

one thing i guess is that a lot of this comes from many thinkers and philosophers over the years, but what i guess i was more interested in was direct connections for example, "the idea of universal suffrage can be traced to book xx verse yy in the bible" or "gay rights can find support in the talmud xyz" etc... that kind of thing...

i guess its not so clear-cut maybe?

It depends, some topics are explicit and others are implicit within a larger world view that you cannot really pick and choose parts from. It seems to me that that entire world view is the critical part, because otherwise any single biblical command can just be ignored anyway if we don't like it. At the end of the day, either we are all made in God's image and have God-given inalienable rights --- in which case the government has no right to take them away --- or morality is relative, and who's to say that Chinas approach to human rights is inferior to ours? Or that those pesky flat-earthers deserve not being in prison? And so on :)

There is of course much morality that one can give chapter and verse for. This includes "big" things like murder and theft, and more subtle things like fair wages, due process and government for the people.

> Commonwealth nations have largely devolved into illiberal elective autocracies with immense power concentrated in the PM's offices,

Not especially applicable to border lockdowns within Australia.

The biggest case that hit the Federal Court was the border closure by the State of Western Australia (population ~ 2 million, land area 3x Texas) which was in effect the local citizens of W.Australia being damn near 100% in lockstep with their elected local representatives in saying we have no desire to see free movement of people across our State border during the time of the pandemic.

They were in opposition to the Federal Government and the PM's office and held their ground ..

.. despite the alleged "immense power concentrated in the PM's offices".

Free trade of goods continued via rail, road, and shipping so their was no issue with that part of the Consttitution, and the lockdown was in keeping with earlier (2005 etc) biosecurity ammendments in both State and Federal law.

I originally had written premiers and PM's offices, not sure why I edited it. It wasn't a statement about federalism but about where power was located within each level of government.

Obviously the judiciary is much less powerful here than the US, but my point was how power has been stripped away from party members, legislatures, the civil service, and most of the political executive. Even senior ministers have effectively no political power whatsoever, they're just sent out with their lines to read. All the power is concentrated within the PMO (or Number 10 in UK parlance), which nowadays solely dictates party strategy and policy.

As for the WA border closure, if you read the judgement it did not say that the constitution only applies to the trade of goods. In Australia constitutional rights can simply be overridden by necessity. You saw the same with the implied right to political communication which has been routinely ignored, as in the Bolt case. If you want to read up on this, look up the doctrine of structured proportionality especially as it's been applied since McCloy. Basically governments can flagrantly breach the constitution and then it's up to the courts to decide whether the transgression was justified based off their own value-judgements. The court was satisfied there was a public health justification for the closure, so s92 goes into the bin.

Realistically until Kiefel and Keane retire, Australians don't have any genuine constitutional rights because they'll just extend the doctrine of structured proportionality to whatever constitutional right is in question. "Non-absolute" rights are simply not rights in any sense of the word.

> Obviously the judiciary is much less powerful here than the US

How do you define "power" exactly? Like the Supreme Court just flipping constitutional law precedent? Or that the government isn't being held to account in front of an independent judiciary?

Because we see that reasonably often in NZ, government gets taken to the High Court, loses, formally apologises, tries to get it right. If that's missing in Australia, that really explains a lot of us on the other side of the ditch have seen the federal government getting up to.

Judicial review is much stronger in the US than NZ as well, due to parliamentary sovereignty you find in the Westminster system. Historically judicial review could only be used to review executive actions, not legislative bills. Now you have a weird bill of rights which is merely statutory, which I believe is a bit like Canada's in that the legislature can still pass whatever it wants with an intentional override?

Of course we don't have any federal bill of rights in Australia, and the implied rights in the constitution to thing like political speech can be violated so long as the court thinks the government had a legitimate reason for doing so.

There’s a really important side problem with having the judiciary enforce quite deep and complex rights and limits on government. It is that the court develops into a really contentious institution making huge political choices that get infused by default with the hallmarks of legal necessity, and eventually the people wonder why the judges themselves aren’t politically accountable. And then they start electing politicians to put judges in who will decide their way. We do not have that problem in Australia, at least it is barely a speck in our history of judicial appointments. The US is presently in the throes of a judiciary rolling back rights that were thought to be set in stone, because people elected a president who promised to appoint judges to do just that. If you politicise a large part of the work of a court, you then open it up to populist capture. That’s when the courts start inventing theories to keep their benefactors in power.

You can complain about parliamentary sovereignty all you like (for us it’s only the states that have plenary legislative power though!) but damn, at least the people deciding about abortion rights etc on our behalf aren’t life appointments set to last 30+ years. If we don’t like what’s happening, we can change the government in 6 weeks start to finish.

In this case it has become /more/ like the parliamentary countries- i.e. the court removed itself from deciding abortion rights and sent it back to legislatures, where it had been originally before an earlier court had decided to overturn precedence by creating new rights not filled rooted in the text.

No, in the US it absolutely is rooted in the text. In Australia it is not. We do not have a long list of individual rights exercisable against the government including privacy that require decisions like Roe v Wade in the first place. If you concentrate only on the effect of "sending it back to the legislatures" then it seems good, but you must realise that doing that abdicates the court's clear, universally acknowledged and long-term role in enforcing those rights. This is an unstable middle ground, because there has been a period of 50 years in which the democratic debate around it has been completely lop-sided as the pro-choice crowd barely needed to lift a finger as the right was clear. The actual effect is already to "send it back to legislatures that are stacked with people salivating at the prospect of imposing some pretty extreme views on the majority who disagrees with them". It will take a long time to settle. And the whole time, America will have to come to terms that its most important legal body is churning out pre-ordained self-serving nonsense to reach these conclusions. There is nothing coherent in the Dobbs majority decision. The current test for "is a right enforceable" is "did laws sometime before 1850 or so allow people to do this? Before you answer, we're gonna ignore all the evidence that says yes". That's not a good place to be. It is, mind you, about as logical as the doctrine of "qualified immunity", which is kind of like a hiring freeze but for yet-to-be-encountered situations involving government workers (especially police officers) violating people's constitutional rights, such that no new (ie not "clearly established" in a previous decision) kinds of constitutional rights violations have resulted in consequences since 1982. American law is fucked up, in such a way that democracy on one issue at a a time cannot fix. Even if you managed to set forth a movement for protecting abortion rights and defeated all the state legislative campaigns to thoroughly criminalise it, you would still be stuck with a really bad situation re the rights in the Constitution not really meaning anything.

In order for American constitutional law to make sense again, they should either strip the entire bill of rights from the constitution (slowly!) or once again do a huge U-turn on Dobbs (and the cases yet to be handed down in which the conservative majority will use the same ridiculous legal test that is even less rooted in the text of the constitution than the rights they're analysing to justify knocking down the right to gay marriage etc) and acknowledge it was bullshit. My thought at the moment is that doing it Australian-style is better in the long run. You get slower progress, for example we had discriminatory laws against sodomy in Queensland until 2016 (!), whereas the US has benefited economically and socially from the extremely sound policy of abortion access (cutting off a poverty/crime pipeline) for 50 years. But you don't get the instability that results from populist movements cottoning on that an independent judiciary sits in their way. As it stands the US is there. It's a very dark spot.

> As for the WA border closure, if you read the judgement it did not say that the constitution only applies to the trade of goods. In Australia constitutional rights can simply be overridden by necessity.

I have read both the judgement re: WA which upheld the State's Right to enact quarantine during a biosecurity emergancy "while that situation lasted" and I've read the Australian Constitution, in particular the passage that supposedly allows free unencumbered travel between States even during a pandemic (which, I'm afraid, it doesn't).

These specifics aside, I agree that various Federal Governments have pushed past the bounds of what most citizens find acceptable and it's right and correct that they push back and mount challenges.

In the specific case of these environmental protestors I feel the former Government did go to excess in surveillance and stalking them in a manner befitting terrorists plotting malfeasance. No soup for them.

In the same manner of fair view to both sides, this particular protest group had in the past and did intend in the future to go beyond public and visible protest and fully into the realm of trespass and disruption of ongoing business activity.

Personally I applaud the ascent and hanging from a coal port stack loader - it was a ballsy move and good publicity and reminds me of things I did on several occassions in my 20s - but it was also trespass and beyond mere protest.

None of which justifies the excess bail conditions outlined in the OP article.

>The entire tradition of thought around natural law and limits on the legitimate scope of the state have simply disappeared in Australia so far as I can tell

Natural rights and an absolute sovereign aren't contradictory in the Anglo school of thought, see one of its most famous representatives, Thomas Hobbes. (There's no such thing as natural law, which is always a contractual human affair between the governor and the governed).

The particular American, Lockean version of liberalism you're talking about never had much sway in the Commonwealth, and Australia derives its traditions if anything from Britain, not the US.

Locke had more influence than Hobbes in GB and the other British exponents of Liberalism like Mill (who was very influential among Australia's founders) also clearly advocated for limits on state power.

>Commonwealth nations have largely devolved into illiberal elective autocracies

Not all commonwealth nations. Some have devolved into banana republic failed state kleptocracies. Spend a day reading up on what's happening in South Africa's politics and see for yourself.

We are either so ahead of the times that SA is a model for what's coming for countries like CAD/AUS/NZ, or we skipped the functional-but-overstepping government phase completely and just went straight to the gutter.

> Spend a day reading up on what's happening in South Africa's politics and see for yourself.

South Africa is less analogous to an internal devolution and more analogous to one country being conquered by another country.

In what possible way? To which change of power are you referring to here, I can think of at least two but neither match your description so far I understand.

I'm not GP but SA essentially has a single party that took control, with the opposition and minor parties not even able to hold a candle to the power the primary party wields. This primary party with control installed well-connected, but completely useless party members as heads of all government departments and state owned entities. And since coming into power, most of its members have stolen as much as possible.

The only way such a government could come to power and remain in power anywhere else in the world would be in a conquered state. I can see the parallels that the GP has drawn by calling SA such.

> The entire tradition of thought around natural law and limits on the legitimate scope of the state have simply disappeared in Australia so far as I can tell

Counterpoint: this is usually code for "the government did something I didn't like".

I don't know where you're from but this reads like a very American slippery slope fallacy type way of thinking. You may not be Americans but this line of thinking is popular among Americans. Canada maybe (ie America's hat)?

There's a lot you can criticize the Australian government for. Top of mind for me would be the treatment of boat people. The anti-eryption stuff is really just laughable because it's performative with very little actual impact. It's old people who don't understand technology trying to regulate technology in the most ignorant way possible. Ties to the two old media empires of Murdoch and Packer are more problematic.

But the Australian government still has done a lot of good things (eg the assault weapons ban following the Port Arthur massacre).

> ... immense power concentrated in the PM's offices

This... shows a lot of ignorance about how the government works, at least in Australia's case. First, PM isn't actually a constitutional position with any explicit authority in Australia. The government has been dissolved by the Governor-General (ie Gough Whitlam). PMs have been frequently ousted by their party (eg Kevin Rudd, Julia Gillard, Tony Abbott). There was a period where in 10 years not a single PM had survived their entire 3 year term.

As a counterexample to the "autocracy", Tony Abbott as PM was largely undone by giving an Australian knighthood to Prince Philip. This was deeply unpopular and at the same time completely irrelevant.

Calling this level of accountability to the voters (even though the party-room coup against Abbott had nothing directly to do with voters) an "autocracy" betrays a gross ignorance of how the Australian government works.

The country is it's people and the government represents the interests of its people, not the other way around. So you have some belief about what you think the government is that doesn't line up with reality. The government is its people, when it stops working for the interests of the common good, it's no longer legitimate.

> Given the cynical application of laws and their moderating charter exceptions in places like Australia and Canada over the last few years, I could forsee a new republican movement emerging in commonwealth countries

How exactly would that lead to increased republican sentiments? It is not as if the queen is making these elected governments act in this way.

> It is not as if the queen is making these elected governments act in this way.

Not to mention the same class making these gross oversteps of government authority would be the ones to write any republican constitution.

The Queen's representative, the Governor General is the head of a government that is not mitigated by explicit inaliable freedoms that act as a check on it, or divide its powers in a way to prevent it being converted to a classic tyranny. It would require a whole new constitution to remove the powers that these governments have evolved to abuse.

Hence it seems predictable that a popular movement toward new constitutional republics could rise. Without a means to defend your basic freedoms from the people who eventually rise to make up a government, a constitution and a charter of rights are just conventions. These parliamentary democracies are in a co-ordinated transition to something else.

If anything such overreach will lead to a loss of support for republicanism.

As it is I think Australians generally see the Queen (and Governor General to a lesser extent) as being outside politics. There is a deep cynicism in the electorate that it will be possible to select a head of state in a manner that will not be politicised, leading to a loss of independence of the head of state.

When I was young, the thought of a "Constitution" requiring a supermajority to modify seemed arcane. "If it's the will of the people, let it be done." Today, I am forever jealous of America's Constitution. No matter which crazies are elected, they face an extreme uphill battle to remove basic rights. Sadly I do not see the UK/AU/NZ/CAN creating their own Constitutions. Those in power understand it would limit their power to an unacceptable degree.

The US Constitution is not much to be jealous about. In Australia, if people are unhappy with laws, they can change the government, who in turn can change the laws. Meanwhile, in the US, the validity of laws is decided based upon the views of unelected bureaucrats appointed by past Presidents.

The US has the highly undesirable situation of (1) the possibility of a deadlocked President (because Congress does not support them) (2) the possibility of a deadlocked legislature (because SCOTUS doesn't support them).

The Australian Constitution completely sidesteps these conundrums. A bad PM can be ousted in a day. The High Court avoids getting into Constitutional rights disputes except in limited circumstances, such as undue burdens upon the implied freedom of political communication. I consider this significantly more desirable and the US offers nothing to be jealous of.

>A bad PM can be ousted in a day.

By whom? The parliament that confirmed him as PM? The parliament where the PM's party almost always holds the most seats?

A parliamentary system essentially combines the executive and legislative powers to one party.

> A bad PM can be ousted in a day

1 person, appointed by the Queen. In this case it isnt a "slippery slope" where technically it could happen etc it happened.

"The 1975 Australian constitutional crisis, also known simply as the Dismissal, culminated on 11 November 1975 with the dismissal from office of the Prime Minister, Gough Whitlam of the Australian Labor Party (ALP), by Governor-General Sir John Kerr."


Later it was alleged that Kerr had acted for the United States government in dismissing Whitlam.

There is actually a lot to one day come out about that interesting period of time.

>There is actually a lot to one day come out about that interesting period of time.

This was when Australians lost their sovereignty and became a puppet state of US corporations and intelligence agencies.

Just like Germany.

Also just like the UK, one could say.

By the House (of Representatives), or in extraordinary circumstances by the head of state (currently the regent of the Commonwealth) but typically that requires the former to formally seek such a remedy from the latter.

I believe by convention the deputy PM in Australia is necessarily a member of this group (also called the Lower House), though our PM could in theory be a member of the upper house (aka the Senate). I don't believe that's ever been the case, though.

Fascinatingly our constitution mentions the role of Prime Minister precisely zero times -- it was assumed to be understood.

Going purely by our Constitution, technically all Ministers of State - that's all 42 people currently listed at https://www.aph.gov.au/about_parliament/parliamentary_depart... - equally share Executive power (and technically they themselves have no power, they can only advise the Queen, and her representative, the Governor-General, who are the ones with the actual power).

However, as with everything in the Westminster system, the written law is only part of the picture, and by convention, we have one Minister to rule them all, and he/she exercises actual Executive power.

> By whom?

Haha. You could ask:

Gough Whitlam

Kevin Rudd

Julia Gillard

Tony Abbot

Malcolm Turnbull

Technically speaking, by Queen Elizabeth.

I.e. by an unelected foreigner who asserts dominance through custom and tradition.

I don’t know how long such arrangements can persevere, but it’d be delightful if they didn’t survive past Lizzie and Charlie.

I mean, it’s the 21st century. If we have no gods, then why do we still have masters?

Ontologically speaking, sovereignty in a secular nation can have no metaphysical assertions (“divine right to rule”), so there can be no legitimate claims of primacy over other humans.

But this is well known. Perhaps it’s the invisible and inactive nature of British monarchy that permits it to survive: they do next no nothing publicly, so they don’t step on toes.

> the validity of laws is decided based upon the views of unelected bureaucrats appointed by past Presidents

Which means that these people are actually indirectly selected by voters, but are changed in a much slower way and will not be a series of populists who rewrite everything every time a political climate changes a bit.

This sounds like a very good thing.

That's a very good thing until a populist President, who didn't even win the popular vote, comes into office and stacks the court with loyalists who repeal basic rights supported by the majority of voters.

Then voters are reminded of how little their votes actually matter, directly or indirectly.

> Sadly I do not see the UK/AU/NZ/CAN creating their own Constitutions.

Australia and Canada both have constitutions (I don't know about the Canadian one, but the Australian one was definitely written by Australians), and while NZ doesn't have a codified constitution it does have several treaties and laws which effectively form a constitution in all but name (in particular they have the concept of entrenched laws which require more than a simple majority in parliament to amend -- though as far as I can tell, not all laws considered part of the New Zealand Constitution are entrenched). I don't know what gave you the impression we don't have a constitution.

> No matter which crazies are elected, they face an extreme uphill battle to remove basic rights.

In Australia it's even harder to change the constitution, so if that's something you like then you should love the Australian Constitution even more! You need a double majority of the public to vote in favour of the change in a nationwide referendum. In the US, the constitution can be changed without any public votes or input at all (since it only requires state legislatures to ratify the amendment).

>Australia and Canada both have constitutions

While this is technically true, it does not appear that either guarantee the rights of citizens to speak freely, especially when the speech is objectionable. When I lament the lack of a Constitution, I lament a Constitution which permits us the same inalienable rights. Both Australia and Canada place harsh restrictions on speech.

It's not "technically" true, it's simply true.

As for enshrining rights, Canada has the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms[1] which is a constitutional document that includes the freedom of expression. New Zealand has the Bill of Rights Act[2] which includes freedom of expression. As mentioned before, it's not entrenched law (though it was originally intended to be) but since most countries don't have constitutional bills of rights, this is hardly unusual.

As for Australia, I personally do think we should have a bill of rights of some kind (currently the basis of freedom of political speech is based on a High Court ruling about the Constitution's preamble which is in my view incredibly flimsy). I personally wouldn't model it on the US Constitution -- I would base it on the NZ Bill of Rights, but that's a minor detail.

However, it's simply not true to say that those countries don't have constitutions when you actually want to say that they don't have constitutional protections of certain rights (and in the case of Canada, they actually do!)

[1]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Canadian_Charter_of_Rights_and... [2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Bill_of_Rights_Act...

Each of those countries you list already has a constitution. The Australian constitution requires both the majority of the people and the majority of the states to all votes yes in a referendum to the change. It isn't easy to modify.

> Today, I am forever jealous of America's Constitution. No matter which crazies are elected, they face an extreme uphill battle to remove basic rights.

Me too. In my country we've got politicians proposing amendments to the constitution every other day like it was nothing, it happens frequently enough for there to be jargon and acronyms for it: Constitutional Amendment Proposals. USA at least has a solid ideological foundation to stand on, even though its government violates the rights of americans on a daily basis.

Roe v Wade much? I’m Australian and, whilst the we have huge issues with lack of a “bill of rights”, at least we don’t have conservative judges running the country.

Roe v. Wade was judicial fiat from the time it was laid. The Judiciary carved it out as precedent, for the duration of that particular set of Justices in the Court. It's as ephemeral in a sense as an executive order.

The way the system is intended to work is that such things should be enacted through the legislature or a Constitutional convention. If it is universally desired to elevate something above reproach (and shoddy prevention that is given the treatment of the 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th and 10th Amendments in general), it'd make it into the Federal Constitution to clarify it. Interestingly however, the 10th Amendment explicitly makes implicit that any freedom not explicitly carved out in either a State or Federal Constitution is granted to the People. So somewhere along the way we've seriously lost sight of how things were intended to work.

The American Constitution was intended to primarily enumerate limits on Government, not on those of the People. Therefore, positive assertions or explicit "People have X right" is actually in a sense a form of regression from what the document was intended to embody. Which again, is primarily "no government, no matter how much easier it'd make your existence, thou shalt not go there", and "no States, we all talked about this, you shan't go there either".

It's about the underlying structure of the legal system, not one particular law or political leaning you don't agree with. The checks and balances system in the US is definitely far more resilient than any of the commonwealth countries, Roe v Wade notwithstanding.

> at least we don’t have conservative judges running the country.

Oh we have that here as well, though I'm not sure about "conservative". Where I live, the supreme federal court is the legislative power. People vote representatives to propose laws but the judges of the supreme court are the ones who ultimately define what the law means in practice it and they use that power to legislate in what has been termed "judicial activism".

I've seen cases where the judges openly acknowledged in writing that according to the law the defendant was innocent, then proceeded to condemn them anyway because what they did offended their personal morals and therefore "deserved repression".

There are ways around Constitution. Constitutional courts do fun things to accommodate sitting governments. But at least it makes the process very difficult and prolong it enough to give public some glimpse. Well, in most cases.

Canada does have a constitution, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_Act,_1982 so I don't understand what you are talking about.

I think you might be thinking of the Bill of Rights, which is the thing that really sets the US apart from those other countries you mentioned. Even the most demonic de facto dictatorships can have constitutions

Canada has had a Bill of Rights enshrined in its constitution since 1982, it's just called the Charter of Rights and Freedoms: https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/Const/page-12.html

The most controversial thing about Canada's Charter isn't the language of the rights itself, it's that to get the support of the provinces it included what's known as the "notwithstanding clause", whereby a province can choose to expressly ignore parts of the charter in laws it enacts.

> Today, I am forever jealous of America's Constitution.

It isn't perfect at all and maybe fallen out of time a bit, but it is better than that of any other country I know (I am not for the US).

But even today you have idiots trying to undermine it (for example in regards to the right to bear arms). I can live without arms and think it has many advantages, but the sleazy lawyer militia arguments brought forward are signs of mental inhibition. With such people a constitution like that would never have been possible.

> It isn't perfect at all and maybe fallen out of time a bit, but it is better than that of any other country I know (I am not for the US).

That's a very surprising take to me.

Some more obvious problems with the US constitution are highly ambiguous clauses (right to bear arms vs militias), unclear powers assigned to parts of the government (could Pence have legally decided on the electors to make Trump win? what's the exact succession of powers?), an election system causing imbalanced voting power (how many senators per state vs population, first-past-the-post vote), important rights left undefined (right to privacy vs the abortion issue), and many many more issues. These really are just the recent things that come to mind. These problems also don't seem scholarly, they appear to have substantial impact on political reality.

The US constitution was certainly a huge achievement for the 18th century. There's - unsurprisingly - been a lot of progress in constitutional theory in the 235 years after though, and it seems like it is a massive liability for the US by now.

This is an extremely narrow perspective on contemporary issues. I think laws in harmony with the constitution would need to answer these questions.

As I said, I don't believe it to be perfect, but I have severe doubts current powers could come up with something better.

The question of the number of representatives by state is a political one. Look at the EU. Pretty much the same. Otherwise a union would not be possible. This is a form of minority protection. There is valid criticism for that but said criticism should first understand why it is the way it is. There is also valid criticism of "the winner takes it all" approaches of course. These issues aren't even disconnected here.

Still, the US constitution is pretty great. I don't know of one that is better. I don't believe the current political climate could improve it significantly and I cannot blame it for not having a direct answer to any legal question. A constitution that might have that would be extremely long and probably extremely bad.

> This is an extremely narrow perspective on contemporary issues.

Do you have specific reasons why you think that's the case? I did give concrete examples, some of which are indeed recent events, but all of these seem to hold in general outside the context of recent events.

> Still, the US constitution is pretty great. I don't know of one that is better.

What countries do you compare to here? And what would be the dimensions you're comparing them on?

> I don't believe the current political climate could improve it significantly.

I think that's true, but that might speak more to the political climate in the US than the inherent quality of the constitution.

I don't think a constitution needs to have answers to these questions. Laws need to define these edge cases which are determined elected governments. They just have to be in harmony with the constitution.

For what would the US constitution be a liability for? It was designed to limit power. That some people might perceive that as limiting is probably for the better. It was imperative for the idea of checks and balances which today seem much more lacking in the US. And the nouveau critics of the constitution seem completely lost on that point.

As I said, it isn't perfect. I don't know the constitution of every country and there might be one that is indeed better. Do you have an example?

If you're interested in this topic, the thing to Google for is "constitutional theory".

Constitutions do not just limit power. They prescribe how a society organizes itself, including how to exert power (not just how to limit it). A major goal for democratic constitutions is enabling a society to make collective decisions.

E.g. the US congress is famously struggling to make decisions. An interesting question then is how the US constitution prescribes decisions must be made, and whether that framework of decision making is successful along certain criteria (e.g. representing voter will, protecting fundamental rights).

If you're interested in comparing to other constitutions, a good way might be researching countries that "score well", e.g. that have stable governments, non-violent transitions of power, successful decision making, score well on the human development index, etc. - or countries where things are going particularly poor. I find that the positive example is often more interesting, because the poor outcomes often have major negative factors that might not apply in other countries and might not relate to their respective constitution.

Countries that come to mind would be the likes of Sweden, Japan, Botswana, New Zealand, but your mileage may vary depending on what you consider to be positive outcomes for a society.

Of course constitutions describe more than that, it is what the US constitution famously improved upon aside from providing a fundamental set of laws. In contrast to constitutions before of course which most often just ascribed absolute power to certain institutions, monarchs or other political bodies.

But I still do think the US constitution does indeed hold up rather nicely, especially in their current political climate where people might tend to disagree with each other. It provides the most essential legal guarantees. In this case a constitution has the important role to define what people actually agree on.

I think what you say about the irrelevance of the constitution in poor outcomes is also true for the success case. Switzerland or Norway score very high on metrics measuring democracy and social services. But their overall strategic position is probably a major factor.

It is difficult to quantify success in governance and this might highly depend on perspective. Japan or South Africa have solid constitutions too, but you have to read it very differently than that of the US. You have to mind the age difference.

> No matter which crazies are elected, they face an extreme uphill battle to remove basic rights.

And yet, Roe was overturned. Gay rights are next.

I’m still confused why the legislature didn’t deal with this issue. I have a theory that in the absence of the Roe ruling, publicity of outcomes would have forced the politicians to create somewhat appropriate rules.

E.g. in Australia we recently reached the situation that both abortion and euthanasia are permitted by all states. I never considered it something the courts should weigh in on - progressive governments allowed members bills and conscience votes.

It’s possible there are US states where the ruling politicians don’t get rotated (voted) out like they are guaranteed to here (eventually) and the legislature is always conservative, but there’s always the possibility of federal laws.

The legislature has dealt with this issue by passing strong, specific laws regarding abortion in many of the states - with quite opposite conditions depending on the state. And it's not because of lack of "rotating" politicians, quite a few of them got elected on because they promised to prohibit abortions, getting votes from the state majority of conservative voters who considered a strict prohibition entirely appropriate.

The federal legislature, on the other hand has it a bit trickier, because despite the much grown influence of federal government using the commerce clause, it does technically seem that this kind of policy is something that according to USA constitutional principles gets to be decided on a state level.

>I’m still confused why the legislature didn’t deal with this issue. I have a theory that in the absence of the Roe ruling, publicity of outcomes would have forced the politicians to create somewhat appropriate rules.

As an American of a certain age, I'd say that it's because culture changes slowly.

While it was obvious to me decades ago that sentient beings should have bodily autonomy and that it was cruel to deny those same beings the right to love who and how they need to do so, that wasn't the case across most of the US.

In fact, the opposition to stuff like bodily autonomy, basic marriage rights, and a raft of other issues weren't (as it is now) concentrated in a single political party as it is today.

And that's why Roe v. Wade was never codified by statute, at least not at the Federal level (note that each state has its own laws regarding bodily autonomy).

Which is a huge mistake IMHO. Bodily autonomy isn't something that should be legislated by any government. Full stop.

Before the age of the 24/7 news cycle (amped up by orders of magnitude with the advent of "social" media), political discourse was generally more local and more amenable to compromise at the national level.

There are numerous reasons for the political and geographical "sorting" that's gone on for the last 40 years or so, but the upshot has been that folks have become more reactionary, more intolerant and more likely to demonize those with whom they disagree.

In fact, in many cases political operatives in the US don't even pretend to address issues. Rather they just demonize the political "other," refuse to cooperate to create positive change and leave it at that.

And the bodily autonomy issue is part and parcel of that trend. There have always been busybodies who want to control what others do, say or think. And a small group of religious extremists hijacked one of the major parties (because that party had continued to lose power and influence because of their anti-liberty, anti-working class stances) that recently culminated in the recent SCOTUS decision[4].

It's really sad. Not because things were so much better 40 years ago. In fact, in many respects, things are better for minority and under-represented groups.

Back in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s[5], the death of a black man at the hands of police[0] (or a civilian[1] for that matter) was almost always just shrugged off.

Today, folks go to jail[2][3] for that sort of thing.

Is the US the inclusive, free society that we claim to be? No. Are we better than we used to be? Yes.

Does more need to be done? Definitely.

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shooting_of_Amadou_Diallo

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1984_New_York_City_Subway_shoo...

[2] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_Ahmaud_Arbery

[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Murder_of_George_Floyd

[4] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dobbs_v._Jackson_Women's_Healt...

[5] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unarmed_African_Americ...

Neither gay rights nor abortion are enumerated as rights in the US Constitution. Sure, some appointed judges have found ways to reason those rights out of the text. But the fact is that rights not enumerated there are left up to the states to decide on. We may not like it but if we want to protect these basic rights we need to go through the established Democratic processes to update the US constitution.

>But the fact is that rights not enumerated there are left up to the states to decide on. We may not like it but if we want to protect these basic rights we need to go through the established Democratic processes to update the US constitution.

        The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. - Ninth Amendment
Gay marriage, abortion and the right to bodily autonomy that underpin them are inalienable rights retained by the people, and states only have authority to regulate those rights with the consent of the people. This is not "left to the states" any more than any other unenumerated right is.

And note - gay marriage and abortion have majority support among the American populace, and in many states where they have currently been outlawed.

Calling for a Constitutional Amendment for this is a red herring, as rights do not have to be enumerated in the Constitution to exist. The Constitution doesn't even support the Supreme Court's right of judicial review.

> and states only have authority to regulate those rights with the consent of the people.

And guess what -- in states like Alabama, the people of that state have elected politicians that choose to regulate things like abortion in a manner different than what would be the case in a state like California. On the flip side, you have states/municipalities that regulate the second amendment -- something DEFINITELY in the constitution, and not in a "squint really hard and it sorta makes sense" way like abortion -- much more stringently than other states. The system is working as intended.

The issue is that you're expecting every state to have the exact same cultural attitudes towards things like abortion. They don't. The majority of people in certain states are against it, and they have voted accordingly.

The constitution delineates the limits of government power. It is a red herring to insist that a constitutional ammendment is not required, when a clear "government may not deny any persons right to bodily autonamy or sexual preference" would ideally stamp out any government interference in such matters.

You are right that all rights are retained by the people, but what has people mad / worried is the states legislating against the will of the majority (specifically because there is nothing stopping them from doing so at a federal or constitutional level).

Gay marriage isn't illegal in any state.

not yet, but interracial marriage historically was [0], so why should it be any different for gay marriage? (genuinely curious)

[0] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interracial_marriage_in_the_Un...

Slavery was also historically legal but isn't any longer. I don't get what interracial marriage being illegal once upon a time has to do with anything.

interracial marriage was illegal in many states up until the late 60's -hardly once upon a time- and i might add that republicans are known recently to say they are after interracial marriage as well [1]

[1] https://talkingpointsmemo.com/news/braun-supreme-court-inter...

Doesn't sound like they're after interracial marriage, sounds like they want it to be left to the states to decide, as Republicans tend to feel on most issues.

Stop acting like there's some mainstream Republican movement to ban gay and interracial marriage, it's obviously not true when you have to sensationalize the titles of your own linked articles.


And it's not even "they" want it to be left to the states. It's a single individual who even mentioned anything about it, and even they "backpeddled" (i.e clarified what they said after the media twisted their words for sensationalism).

  > they want it to be left to the states
this is a dog-whistle for "we want to ban it in our red states", just like abortion... once obergefell is overturned, expect same-sex marriage bans to follow soon-after (probably starting with texas, florida)

and republicans are already changing their platforms to include even stronger anti-gay platforms [1] as has been historically (ill just link to their platform directly) [2]

[1] https://www.houstonpublicmedia.org/articles/news/politics/20...


[2] https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/documents/2016-republican-pa...

  Traditional marriage and family, based on marriage between one man and one woman, is the foundation for a free society and has for millennia been entrusted with rearing children and instilling cultural values. We condemn the Supreme Court's ruling in United States v. Windsor, which wrongly removed the ability of Congress to define marriage policy in federal law. We also condemn the Supreme Court's lawless ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which in the words of the late Justice Antonin Scalia, was a "judicial Putsch" — full of "silly extravagances" — that reduced "the disciplined legal reasoning of John Marshall and Joseph Storey to the mystical aphorisms of a fortune cookie." In Obergefell, five unelected lawyers robbed 320 million Americans of their legitimate constitutional authority to define marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

To be fair, Trump being able to stack the Supreme Court the way he did was the result of happenstance and decades of effort by the GOP. They did face an extreme uphill battle, but they were able to surmount it.

The real problem here is that the Supreme Court is a lifetime political appointment and, as long as their decisions have support in Congress, they're unimpeachable.

> it's pretty clear [NZ has] a "so sue me," approach to legislation and governance

NEw Zealander here: I honestly don’t understand what you are talking about. The culture of “sue”ing doesn’t really exist here. I wouldn’t guess there was a lot in common between NZ and Ozzie: we laugh or cry about what happens over in Oz. No idea about Canada.

In NZ we like to claim we don't have a culture of suing, when this is mostly only because personal injury suits and ambulance-chasers don't exist here, largely because the ACC precludes that particular avenue for litigation.

All kinds of other tort suits exist, it's just that people without any money don't know it, they have no lawyer and nothing to sue or be sued for. So we go around saying "we don't have a culture of suing, that's so American".

In actual fact, wealthy people here are just as litigious as anywhere else... as you are when you have something to gain or to lose.

Sure, but when people talk about the USAs suing culture they are primarily talking about personal injury suits and ambulance chasers aren't they?

Which largely exist because American health costs for an injury are life destroying, so few people can just eat the hospital bill.

I mean, not really. Plenty of people get sued in Canada for personal injury (my friend specializes in it) and they have universal healthcare.

I don't know of any country that has a social safety net that 100% reimburses you for a life-altering injury where you can no longer work. Sure you'll get a disability pension, public healthcare and maybe a bit more, but it's usually "barely enough to live on" support.

If you're a doctor making $200,000 per year and you can't work again, suing is usually the only way to recoup things like lost-wages.

I think the point is in NZ there is basically no possibility to sue for the outcomes of a personal injury. The doctor will have to live a more modest life. Period.

In NZ people can still sue over business contracts and participate in legal cases against the government culminating in legislation being ruled unconstitutional, like other Anglo, common-law countries.

That's fair, I meant cases where the hospital bill is more life altering than the injury. An ambulance ride and some stitches is going to absorb several years savings for a lot of people.

ACC in NZ effectively did away with personal injury lawsuits, before that some people would not drive friends in their car in case they had an accident and ruin a friendship

Think it's probably more because unlike other Anglo jurisdictions, American lawyers can take matters on contingency, whereas at best UK/AUS/NZ lawyers can take them with conditional costs that significantly limit upside to the lawyer. This is also why the UK/AUS have such well developed litigation funding industries compared to the USA.

Isn't it also because the US has punitive damages that are awarded to the person suing, providing for an opportunity for a payout far greater than the compensation for the damages alone?

It exists also because legal system is setup that way. For Example I Europe there is tendency to expect more detailed regulation to decide where lines are. In USA you get more general law and then people are supposed to fight it in court. Courts then decide details by cases.

It is rather bug difference.

Also, insurance companies when they settle claims, they force you to formally sue the other person or they sue each other. Most of these are routine formalities. Again, system setup in a way to generate suits.

It's an idiom, suing isn't that common in Canada either. Basically "just try to stop me, because I know you can't, neeneer neeneer".

"I really don't care if you are offended or put off by what I said or did. The hyperbolic threat is meant to undermine how much importance another person is or may be giving something one did or said." https://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/So%2c+sue+me!

The phrase “so sue me” basically means “with whose army” or “what are you going to do about it”.

It’s not to be taken literally, although in this context it’s a bit confusing.

As I understand it: No one in law or government has any attachment to the idea of freedom so they view restrictions on it as costless solutions to their problems. Thus “Well, if you don’t like it, sue us.” Us being the government.

I'm guessing that you're using some hyperbole here.

If you can refine that a bit we might get an interesting discussion.

Well they did block free movement in the country for a few months, not really sure how legal that was tbh.

If it wasn't legal, you'd see the government in court over it. As happened when the first lockdown wasn't implemented correctly.


I have no idea about New Zealand’s government but surely you have a court system where someone can seek legal recourse. Suing in this context means taking the government to court.

How does NZ solve civil matters?

We do, although you can't sue for personal injury due to ACC[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Accident_Compensation_Corporat...

For smaller (less than NZ$30,000) civil matters we have the Disputes Tribunal[1].

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disputes_Tribunal

COVID-19, and in particular New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern's response during the early days of the pandemic, has made me rethink the idea of absolute freedom and a constitutional federated republic. Over a million Americans are dead now because of some combination of "muh freedoms", "the economy", and "that's really a state issue, there's nothing we can do at the federal level". In contrast, Ardern was like no, I am the most powerful person in this country and I say you're all going on strict lockdown. And how many Kiwis died? Like a few hundred? Of course most of those deaths have been since the NZ government relaxed restrictions and "let the plague ships back in" as Aurynn Shaw put it.

The government can do whatever it wants to you because it's the government. This is true even in the USA. They can spy on you, lie to you, set you up to take the fall for a crime you didn't commit. Obviously these are bad things, but my point is the government has near-infinite resources and ultimate authority among the people; appeals to limit government power through constitutionalism and republicanism obviously aren't going to work very well, even in the most constitutional-republic-ass country on the planet, the USA. So the only question is, how do we ensure, to the maximum extent possible, that government's absolute, sovereign power is applied to the greater good?

If you believe as you asserted, that 1m americans died because they just weren't compliant enough, I'd be interested in other examples in history where among non-government members, it was the compliant who have both survived and prevailed. They have not, they are subjects, and america became the only nation with guaranteed freedoms and rights.

The wisdom of the american system was either you remove its absolute sovereignty and actively maintain the separation and manage it as the bounded dynamic of a growth engine, or it ossifies and becomes corrupt. The american experiement is yielding pretty much what the framers of its constitution predicted, and its enemies have had an instruction manual on how to do it from the beginning. The contempt I read that some people have for freedom is like listening to the inmates of a prison competing over who can be more compliant with the guards, and who reserve their rage for those who inadvertently humiliate them by comparison just by demonstrating some basic human dignity. Someone who sincerely uses epithets like "muh freedoms," by definition is not a peer or equal, and their upside is to become just somebody's liability or pet. It's an entirely relative ontology, and from the perspective of a mob. Corrupt the people, and their government becomes an afterthought.

It was Australia's copying of NZ's strict Covid policies that saved so many lives here too. Although Jacinda took the lead every time, and Scummo inevitably followed in her footsteps a few days / weeks later, and it was always a crappy imitation, and it was made significantly crappier with bickering and inconsistency between Federal and State / Territory governments.

Re: how do we ensure that the government's Executive power is used for good? We can't ensure it. But not voting for an utter imbecile like Trump sure as hell is a good way to make it more likely!

It's pretty clear CAN/AUS/NZ have dispensed with notions of fundamental justice, and have a "so sue me," approach to legislation and governance, as this stuff is just too stupid to be reasoned with. The language means nothing, the principles mean nothing. It's no longer about tech, it's about what our options are when the state has demonstrated official contempt for the people it ostensibly serves.

Well articulated. Exhibit A: Successive Australian governments allowing Assange's imprisonment. Exhibit B: Australia not allowing its own citizens to leave the country during COVID without first requesting permission. Exhibit C: Steadily increasing internet and mobile surveillance and censorship.

Kiwi here, we have? What are you referring to?

We have a rather dim outlook of Australian federal/state government overreach too, and some of their populist policies that discriminate against us, often with racist origins.

And we've often enjoyed a TV drama or three recounting horrendous corruption in various Australian police forces. (I highly recommend the Underbelly series')

Not quite as bad as Australia, yet. You can join the New Zealand Council for Civil Liberties if you want to support their legal work to keep it that way.

> The law applies to both foreign visitors and returning New Zealand citizens:


Started with the Rum Corps and never left. As an Australian I am horrified by the power our police have and the reek of corruption.

What is interesting, having worked from the inside of police for 15 years, is the difference between the different state (and federal) police- some are "forces" some are services. But in all forces or services, the level of corruption can be "eyeballed" by looking at how long since they had a "Royal Commission" in to corruption. Anything longer than 25 years ie a generation, is too long.

And it's not just about bad practices- one of the things that happens in such a royal commission /bloodbath, is that police have to get off their high horse and get treated like everyone else. You know, being "joe public", humble.

Police will say - after such a public flogging "the public stopped fearing us, we had to ask people to do things instead of telling them" .. to which my quiet internal response was- of course you fool, you are a public servant, not an overlord..

once every 25 years, minimum, with some sort of independent body in-between - as what to do in those colonies that threw out the whole system and don't know what a royal commission is? (such as the USA)- I have no idea, good luck.

New Zealand had some of the toughest lockdowns in the entire world. It only just lifted the last of the travel restrictions (https://covid19.govt.nz/international-travel/when-new-zealan...). It mandated vaccinations in all kinds of ways, including firing hundreds of nurses at the height of a pandemic for what appears to be the worst kind of virtue signalling I have ever seen.

The latest democratic crisis involved handing over effective control of water assets to unelected "regional representative groups" based on race. (https://www.democracyaction.org.nz/planned_three_waters_enti...)

1) How do lockdowns to minimise deaths violate natural justice?

2) Refusing a reasonable request from an employer is grounds for termination in NZ employment law. Asking people working with vulnerable people to be vaccinated against the disease causing that pandemic is a reasonable request. The only virtue signalling was from the nurses who martyred themselves on the altar of misinformation.

3) No, the Three Waters reforms aren't just handing control over critical infrastructure to Māori. In the proposed legislation, 50% of members of the new controlling entities will be representatives of relevant territorial authorities, 50% representatives of mana whenua, that is, relevant Māori tribes. [0]

I can explain why the reforms are necessary if you like, but it's not directly relevant to the current discussion.

The make-up of the new entities is in line with the constitutional principle of partnership between the Crown and Māori, derived from legal interpretations of, and attempts to reconcile, the differing texts of the Māori version of the Treaty of Waitangi and the English version. [1] [2] Remember that NZ is a common law country, so, like the UK, we have no explicit constitution, and previous legal decisions set the basis for further decisions, so our constitutionality law is shaped by legal precedent.

The link you shared is misinformed at best, deliberate racebaiting misinformation at worst, there's a bit of that going around, and it's often expressed by people who grew up when racism against Māori was commonplace. The man who operates the website you linked runs a hydraulics firm, he's not a constitutional lawyer, just so you know.

I'm happy to explain more about our country if you're looking to learn more.

[0]: https://www.legislation.govt.nz/bill/government/2022/0136/la...

[1]: https://nzhistory.govt.nz/politics/treaty/read-the-Treaty/di...

[2]: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Principles_of_the_Treaty_of_Wa...

> 1) How do lockdowns to minimise deaths violate natural justice?

To minimise _one form_ of death. If you locked everybody in their houses forever, nobody would die of car accidents, but more people would die of other things. All the studies now show that lockdowns achieved no reduction in overall mortality, they just delayed things a bit, and led to a bunch of other issues like increase in alcoholism/depression and significantly impaired childhood development.

All the studies? Which ones?

>1) How do lockdowns to minimise deaths violate natural justice?

Controlling the bodily autonomy of another by way of coercion falls under every definition of natural justice I have ever read. Which one are you using which permits this?

>2) Refusing a reasonable request from an employer is grounds for termination in NZ employment law. Asking people working with vulnerable people to be vaccinated against the disease causing that pandemic is a reasonable request. The only virtue signalling was from the nurses who martyred themselves on the altar of misinformation.

I get that you support the government's decision. I am simply pointing out that firing hundreds of nurses during a global pandemic was a bad idea, conceived solely to exert power and control over a badly needed cohort of public health workers.

>3) No, the Three Waters reforms aren't just handing control over critical infrastructure to Māori. In the proposed legislation, 50% of members of the new controlling entities will be representatives of relevant territorial authorities, 50% representatives of mana whenua, that is, relevant Māori tribes. [0]

Your response amounts to "you're wrong, but yes you're right." Is it Orwell day today? You don't get to just call whatever you don't like "misinformation." You admit that an unelected group comprised of 50% of people specifically chosen for their race will be in charge of selecting the governing board of a public asset. You've made it very clear that you like the racial discrimination and attack on the fundamental pillars of democracy in New Zealand, but you don't get to gaslight anyone into believing it's not happening. If you want to follow Labour into hell, the least you will do is be honest about your intentions.

> "you're wrong"

You did say "effective control", which 50% isn't.

> You don't get to just call whatever you don't like "misinformation."

The title of the page you linked to is "THREE WATERS REFORM TO GIVE IWI/MĀORI DOMINATING INFLUENCE" - 50% is dominating?

You think that co-governance directly attacks the pillars of NZ democracy? Funny, I thought that te Tiriti o Waitangi was the founding document of that nation, and that the principles of the Treaty are key to how we manage our democracy.

Obviously we vastly differ in how we interpret NZ's bicultural foundational bones, you seem to view co-governance as a fundamental threat, I view it as the Crown actually doing what we said we'd do back in 1850, which I'm very much in support of. But then I also guess it depends on how you interpret kāwanatanga and tiro rangatiratanga.

After all, NZ Europeans did promptly ignore the terms of the treaty, and go to war to steal land from the Māori, then confiscated some more land by force, even from iwi who were the Crown's allies in the New Zealand Wars, and made agreements to buy land, which provisions which were not honoured for over a century, in order to satisfy the demand from European colonists.

Oh, and then there was the deliberate efforts by the Crown to suppress Māori culture, and to disrupt their way of life.

I dunno, I just prefer it if our country was based on "treating the people who lived here first fairly".

> I get that you support the government's decision. I am simply pointing out that firing hundreds of nurses during a global pandemic was a bad idea, conceived solely to exert power and control over a badly needed cohort of public health workers.

Once again, failure to follow reasonable requests from an employer is grounds for termination. They failed to follow a reasonable request, they lost their jobs. Yes, nurses are needed, but nurses who are potential vectors for spreading Covid to people _who are in hospital for existing health problems_ are very much not needed.

> conceived solely to exert power and control over a badly needed cohort of public health workers.

That is just your subjective belief, unless you've sighted a policy document from the Minister of Health that says "Mwahaha, let's show those uppity nurses who's boss".

Horseshit. A few nurses were stood down because they wouldn't get a vaccination in a pandemic. Good.

Your take on the Three Waters reforms is just completely wronghewded, there is so much misinformation about those changes it's ridiculous. Water systems need fixing up in NZ and it makes no sense to let small local councils do it when larger bodies can borrow at better rates to get the infrastructure work done.



Isn't it amazing how people who don't like the truth accuse others of "wrongthink." Go ahead and read the legislation for yourself (https://www.dia.govt.nz/Three-Waters-Reform-Programme). 50% of the Regional Representative Groups must be made up of Maori.

> Horseshit. A few nurses were stood down because they wouldn't get a vaccination in a pandemic. Good.

A pandemic in which they were at the frontlines, observing both the effects of covid on patients and the effects of the vaccines, yet they were more afraid of the vaccines than covid. That should tell you something about how safe the vaccines are.

New Zealand nurses had virtually zero first hand experience of the effects of the virus (on the frontlines) because the government imposed isolation was so effective at keeping Covid out of the country. Also, there is plenty of evidence that proves vaccination is considerably less dangerous than contracting the virus (especially for the over 60 age group), although in certain younger age groups it’s a bit inconclusive. Nurses can be as irrational as any other professionals.

Underbelly is a great series. Really enjoyed that.

One doesn't need to agree with the persons cause to recognize this is another extreme overstepping of authority on the part of that government to mandate that the people who communicate with the person subject to this order may also not protect their own commuications from interception, and that the person subject to the order must somehow produce a key for whatever data gets sent to him.

As someone who matches exactly what your first clause says, I fully agree with this; especially since he apparently has not even been judged yet.

Don't lump NZ in with Aus, different government, different laws. Afaik the trying to outlaw encryption stuff hasn't hopped the ditch yet.

While they haven't been as outspoken on encryption It's still an offense to refuse to unlock a device. If you're visiting NZ it's best not to travel with a laptop and to take reasonable precautions with your mobile devices.

NZ is legally speaking a few years behind Australia.

Just take a look at up coming legislation, I think its the MMP system that slows down these laws.

They will still happen just at a slower pace and with better timed PR.

> too stupid to be reasoned with

Indeed and I wouldn't recommend any debate anymore. That ship has sailed 2 decades ago at least. While it shouldn't be that way the only option is technology. Technology made encryption a reality for many people and many governments didn't like that at all. I have no faith in the judiciary to set sensible rules for executive overreach so letting technology make safe communication a reality is necessary.

So we should always make sure to supply technology that allows for encryption and that the knowledge and development stays open enough so that it can be replicated.

In the end this will costs those governments massively in the long run.

Is “principle of fundamental Justice” related to the concept of everyone being reasonable and acting in good faith, not forcing the legal system to evaluate every possibility?

Eg. The Republicans won’t stop passing manifestly unconstitutional legislation at state level. They force the thing to be played out rather than accepting what’s obvious and not attempting it to begin with.

Not only Republicans. Both parties act the same way when the Constitution becomes an inconvenience.

I’m actually quite curious, in good faith, examples of manifestly unconstitutional legislation the Democrats have passed. Not an American so I haven’t the detailed history.

Though this is rather off topic so maybe we should leave it there.

Given the cynical application of laws and their moderating charter exceptions in places like Australia and Canada over the last few years,

Examples? You can’t just make extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence.

Canada used the Emergency Act, which suspended some Charter rights, to break up the Trucker Convoy.

When challenged in court a week later, the government recinded it (so the court case was dropped). A formal inquiry requested cabinet minutes on the decision to use the Emergency Act which was denied until very recently (when it was challenged in court and the media).


It's very much a "we will do what we want and you can go ahead and sue us", but of course by then, the damage is done in the sense that infringement of our rights just got a little bit easier.

No doubt the inquiry will raise concerns, but not until next year when it'll get minimal attention in the news cycle and the Prime Minister will say "At the time it was the right decision...we only take away rights when there is no other option...democracy is safe..."

You mean bail conditions? It’s very common to have your communications be restricted with certain people and you may be restricted from entering certain geographical areas. How is this overreach?

I read a story of a NZ man who groped a woman's breast out on a walk.

He was banned from using a device that can access the Internet.

Is there any current support for this fundamental rights/free speech movement?

As an American, I can tell you just because a movement should exist doesn’t mean it will.

I agree that the bail conditions seem excessive but the US also sets bail conditions, doesn't it? I'm pretty sure I've heard of cases where bail was flat out denied or where no Internet/computer use was imposed as a condition (which is effectively a ban on encrypted apps).

  > the person subject to the order must somehow produce a key for whatever
  > data gets sent to him
Can we find his address? I'd like to send to him some encrypted messages. Maybe to the local police department, or its detectives, as well. Of course, I'll retain the decryption key so they'll have no way to decrypt it.

Maybe spam finally has a use! If a case could be made that all - or any - spam contains a steganographic message, then there is plausible deniability that the recipient would not have the means to decode any - or all - messages sent to him.

Though I'm sure that the law has tools to contend with technically contrived examples such as this, somebody versed in the relevant law could probably stretch the idea to a murkier legal area and apply it.

It’s not really an absolute right in America either. Specifically this seems pretty similar to the restrictions put on prisoner’s communications in the US.

Hey man, you are right, the legitimacy of many coordinators is at an all time low.

The simple way to move on is to just move on. Please help me: datalisp.is.

Note these are bail conditions (so presumably an alternative to a much more constrained existence in prison) for a charge that indicates potential for inflicting severe economic damage after organization via communication devices.

When compared to bail conditions for other charged crimes which may also be strict and context-related (eg. trackers or keeping distance from a victim of violence) it sounds tough (and right to be strictly monitored under rights laws) but not necessarily unreasonable.

Is it wrong/excessive/draconian? Possibly. But I don't think a knee-jerk assumption that it is any of those things is appropriate.

All this was done in an effort to suppress non-violent protest of Australian climate policies, and in particular it's extreme coal exports, which are among the largest in the world.

So yes, this is a draconian bail condition that is meant to do harm against the few Australian that seek to prevent harm to come to you.

When will they arrest the heads of oil companies for inflicting severe economic damage?

Or the government itself?

The fact "causing economic damage" is a crime should be enough of a red flag by itself.

If I steal a car from a car dealership, what am I guilty of other than "causing economic damage"? Isn't economic damage the fundamental issue of any theft?

You are guilty of property theft. You forcibly took away something that belonged to another entity. The fundamental issue is property. No "economic damage" slips into the argument. If that was the case, market competition would be illegal as you cause economic damage to your competitors. Advocating for veganism would be illegal because you cause economic damage to meat sellers. Inventing new technologies would be illegal because you cause economical damage to the old guard. Leaving anything other than 5 star reviews would be illegal because you cause economical damage. Calling for boycotting of unethical companies or states would be illegal (all hail anti Israel boycotting laws in the US). Etc etc.

It's worth noting that merely "causing major economic loss" is not an offence in itself, it's just an aggravating factor for other offences.

The basis of the law disagrees with you - the likely consequence of me stealing something is being forced to compensate you for it. It's redress the economic harm. I'm not saying all economic damage is illegitimate, but I'm saying economic damage can be a legitimate cause for something to be illegal.

It's the way of the economic damage that matters, similarly to other offenses. It is not illegal to tarnish your reputation, for example. What is illegal is to do so through lies. Damaging a fellow human is not, in any of our current sociopolitical systems at least, a crime in itself. It is only a crime if you damage a fellow human outside the agreed upon rules, which also vary.

Agreed, you don't have access to a phone at all while in remand. Bail conditions can restrict who you live with, where you live, interstate travel etc. These are all huge losses of liberty that we accept as a society the same way we accept prison as a loss of liberty.

How is "blocking a road" a crime that inflicts severe economic damage?

If the road carries trade and blocking it prevents that trade, like for example if they block the only access road to a coal mine. How it would happen in a city where you can just go around I don't know.

But here I think they got nabbed on a city road protest and charged for the blocking of coal transport. Though it sounds like blocking the coal exports actually happened before the new law was in force, meaning the new charges are basically vindictive.

There was recently a canal blockage that caused severe economic damage to the entire world.


This attitude speaks to a rather severe amount of privilege that not all enjoy. If you “cause economic damage” that then raises prices, you hurt the poorest in rather large ways.

Economic damage is real damage. If you break windows, and the govt has to repair those windows, it has less money to spend on welfare and charity and doing other stuff that a govt wants to do.

nitpick: government has to pay people to fix the windows, creating jobs.

Maybe you get more window repairmen and less police, but which is better for society is still an open question.

You realize there's a famous essay on economy that uses precisely the allegory of windows being broken and repaired to argue that not all GDP is good. That's right, "it's creates jobs" is a terrible argument.

To nitpick- not necessarily, the extra expense just gets added to the deficit

So you've added to the debt burden then. Or did you think that "the deficit" was a magical wealth fountain?

That's what the government seems to think. Why should they have all the fun?

The checkbook must balance eventually, or at least grow in a controlled fashion. If you could add arbitrary expenses to the deficit and get +ve value out, a lot of things fall apart.

Breaking windows sounds more like physical damage

I'm not sure what else "economic damage" could refer to that isn't some sort of physical cost? If, say, an activist uses social media to incite people to blockade a road, making 10k people an hour late for work, that's up to 10k less hours of stuff done^1. That's a cost, even if it's a "virtual" one. Say x% of those people worked in healthcare, that's x00 hours less healthcare done, and that's people killed in expectation.

^1: or up to 10k people working an hour late, which is a cost in and of itself.

I might have been wrong. I thought that "economic damage" means something like release some bad press release, which wipes a lot of economic value from stock prices.

Damage to any thing of value is also economic damage. Someone's resources, natural or labor, will be consumed for replacement.

Not unexpected from the state that banned encryption, gives the police the right to modifiy, add and remove files from your devices.

And can also force its citizens to implement backdoors and basically be spies even in foreign countries and companies.

Not to mention the extensive censorship.

Ironically the only state which has legal X rated content and legal cannabis is the Australian Capital Territory which is where all the politicians live. (equivalent to DC).

Also pill testing. Only in the ACT.

Australia has always been somewhat of a prison colony with extensive censorship of media and the Internet and almost no constitutional rights as Americans understand them.

Most Australians assume they have the same rights as Americans.

It's almost like people think that they should be entitled to rights, or something. Perhaps the government should give them some rights, in that case.

Are you living in Australia? Just curious to understand where is this belief coming from.

I lived there for a long time. Australia is just so politically aligned with the USA that most Australians just think they’re entitled to most of the same freedoms by default.

Fwiw, it seems to be true in UK that people without legal training think most of what they see in the media about "the law" relates to them. Things like Miranda rights. I assume that's just because most of our A-tier media comes from USA.

What extensive censorship of media? Australian's have plenty of 'constitutional rights', the right to vote, the right to property, the right to trial by jury, freedom of religion.

"constitutional rights as Americans understand them" I assume is referring to the bill of rights. Australia doesn't have a bill of rights and most of our "rights" mentioned above are not "constituional" (in the sense that the constitution guarentees them) and are either conferred via common law, legislation, or not at all.

And to be honest, I am OK with this. A lot of negative change in the US seems to be coming from a SCOTUS that nobody voted for and that the regular population cannot overrule without a constitutional amendment.

Yep. The general consensus here in Australia is: "look at the USA, their bill of rights has the right to bear arms, gee didn't that turn out great, we'll stick with what we've got thanks".

The literal raids to prevent the media from reporting on Ozzie Special Forces committing gruesome murders in Afghanistan come to mind.


Lot's of videogames have had to be modified to be released here, in recent memory Hotline Miami 2, Stick of Truth, Fallout 3.


Yes there was no R rating for a long time, and the ASRB still takes a negative view of illicit drug use in games. But is 'cant use illicit drugs in games' the definition of excessive media censorship?

Absolutely? Sounds like some Saudi Arabia tier shit. Australia: you are in good company.

From your link:

> Stick of Truth: Banned because of a scene of sexual violence involving minors.

Sounds to me like the censors are doing a good job.

I'm sorry you hate your freedoms. Just for some context, this horrifying clip of child sexual abuse seems to be freely available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k1NiMzlDBO8

Are the censors doing a good job? What about these reasons?

> Banned for drug use related to incentives and rewards.

> Banned because of sexuality and nudity in relation to incentives and rewards.

> Banned because of high impact violence and torture.

> Banned because of high impact bloody violence.

You missed the “ as Americans understand them” part. Those are rights, but not constitutional.

I'm surprised that it doesn't come up in the article, but I would have thought those bail conditions substantially interfered with his ability to have a fair trial. How can he communicate with his lawyer in a secure manner if he can't use any kind of encryption and the police have all his phone passwords to look at any time? Are the the police going to read all his communications with his lawyer?

Presumably the same way suspects communicated with their lawyers before the advent of telephones?

Pretty serious overstep of rights - hopefully these kinds of restrictions don't pass muster when they get challenged. It's ridiculous we can impose this on someone who hasn't even been found guilty.

I wouldn't take this as representative of Australia as a whole though - In many other respects we have excellent institutions and strong rights.

It's presumably revenge for the police getting caught out being stupid in an earlier encounter.


We also keep giving police 'temporary powers' that end up becoming permanent.

We lost anything worthwhile when we lost the right to protest. The ludicrousness of thinking its acceptable to have to apply for a permit to protest is sheer insanity.

Consistent reminder that the police will spend a tremendous amount of time, money, and energy surveilling and attempting to break up left-wing groups, whilst literal neo-nazi groups are left to grow their numbers. The police are working to curb threats to capital, they aren't there for us.

Temporary powers are (almost?) never a thing. This is why some of us lean libertarian / Liberal (in the classic sense). The government easily accretes power. It is much harder to reverse the process. It’s like technical debt in that sense.

The headline made me think he was a child pornographer. Holy shit, Australia does this for an illegal protest?

Not just any old protest. Chaining oneself to train tracks, stopping coal-laden trains from reaching the Port of Newcastle (the world's biggest coal export facility). Don't underestimate what the fossil fools in power here in Australia will do, to literally ensure that their gravy train keeps rolling along.

This guy blocked a road in Sydney, he didn't chain himself to train tracks.

This seems incredibly Draconian for a climate protestor. Would this prohibit him from accessing cryptocurrencies?

Not only that; this is before a guilty verdict!

> Mr Rolles has pled not guilty and is awaiting trial.

And it certainly seems extreme:

> Mr Davis said one of his clients had been pulled in by police after they reacted with a "thumbs up" emoji to Facebook comments shared by friends who were also allegedly part of Blockade Australia activities.

> "A thumbs up, it's not much in terms of communication," the activist told the ABC.

> "The fact that the state finds that threatening — people talking and sharing our ideas — is very telling."

> No breach of bail charges were ultimately pursued over the "likes".

The police seem to have a vendetta against the group the accused is part of:


Crypto is one thing, but what about his normal banking?

> Would this prohibit him from accessing cryptocurrencies?

Taken literally he wouldn’t be able to do online banking or access any encrypted website.

Dude is a climate activist. I think other things preclude him from cryptocurrency.

Cryptocurrency != bitcoin. Plenty of cryptocurrencies that don't rely on PoW


Solana, Polkadot, Cosmos Hub, Ethereum Beacon chain, Binance Smart Chain, Cardano, Polygon, Avalanche, Cronos, NEAR, Algorand, Tezos, Osmosis, Juno, ...

> you cannot turn on your lights because they are IOT shit and use encryption (albeit with vulnerabilities that bypass it) which is a weapon or something because they said in james bond

Yep, this is what happens when you let people in technical and legal positions be harmfully stupid for decades on end.

I don't see how such a law even makes the phone/laptop itself safe to use, literally everything employs encryption now, it's built right in to the CPU and most websites you visit.

Would obfuscation be considered encryption?

And what about remote access? Is ssh or remote desktop considered off-limits? How could such usage even be policed when it's their own device with no tracking software installed?

Goodbye to https too.

I just checked that the right against self-incrimination exists in Australia, too. Isn't it a violation of this law to require someone to tell their passwords?

Even in the US the case law around self-incrimination due to forced password disclosure does not seem to be settled. There have been multiple cases were judges have considered passwords foregone conclusions, e.g. [1]

[1] https://www.reuters.com/business/legal/us-supreme-court-nixe...

Not a lawyer, but my understanding is that in the USA you cannot be compelled to provide your password as such, but you can be ordered to produce the decrypted content. I guess the only real distinction there is that you're allowed to keep the password itself secret.

IMO, this is a key difference between AU and USA. In Australia the government gives you rights. But that means they can also revoke them in some situations since the rights are derived from the government itself. In the US, our rights are innate and inalienable. We possess them because we exist. Our constitution says the government cannot violate these innate rights, not that the document/government gives us the rights. It is a subtle yet very important difference.

By what metric are your rights inalienable and innate? Your government permits you to to have those rights through extremely similar mechanisms to ours in Australia.

Has the US ever violated one of its citizens 'innate rights'? Constantly, there are thousands of professional constitutional lawyers and government officials arguing over the interpretation of that document and the precedents set by historic interpretations. Ie, your government is actively in the process of deciding how the legal system interacts with the citizens and the constitution, which is definitively your government giving you the rights. See, every 2A Supreme Court battle ever.

>By what metric are your rights inalienable and innate?

The 2nd.

Edit: >definitively your government giving you the rights

Because we've gotten lazy and allowed it. Most of our legislative buildings have public balconies above the floors where laws are made. The architecture is sort of a reminder/implicit threat. Or it was, once upon a time. "We're watching you. Don't make any laws that are draconian".

i dont know man, as a non-american, why do you consider your constitution with so much regard as being bulletproof? cant your government just change it? like any other governments do? whats so sacrosanct about it?

> cant your government just change it?

Short answer: no. The federal government (Congress) can propose amendments, but ratification requires the approval of a 2/3 majority of the 50 states' legislatures (38/50).

And remember that in the US, the governments of each state are not just sub-divisions of the federal government, but totally distinct entities with their own constitutions, legislatures, elections, etc. The federal government has no direct control over the states, and thus can not force them to approve an amendment.

So, to change the US Constitution, 39 separate governments need to agree, and that's a pretty high bar.

> So, to change the US Constitution, 39 separate governments need to agree,

In practice, you simply need the minimum majority of the supreme court to agree with an 'interpretation' of the constitution that gives you what you want.

Well if you want to follow that line of argument, the Supreme Court is irrelevant since the executive branch or military can just choose to ignore its rulings.

But assuming the rule of law still exists, there is no way the Supreme Court would be able to "interpret" the Constitution to allow amendments in another way. The Constitution is very explicit about the amendment process, and it has been performed by that process 27 times to date. No way to "interpret" your way out of that.

(OK, yes, I know constitutional conventions are another route. But that has never been tried.)

There's a specific method for amending it that requires a very high level of agreement among both houses of Congress and the various state legislatures. In theory Congress or the executive branch could just ignore that and go do whatever they want as long as the judiciary didn't stop them, or the Supreme Court could use weasel-words to make the Constitution mean something other than what it says. Both of those things have happened to varying degrees over the years, but it would be a huge expression of contempt for the rule of law for anyone say outright that was what they were doing.

Australia has constitutional referendum as well, these require a 'double majority' (from the public) to pass as well as an absolute majority in both House of Parliament. Which means it needs a national majority of voters AND a majority of voters in a majority of states and territories.

If your government tries to change it without the approval of the states, etc. (see constitutional amendments in the US), you kill the government. That's what the second amendment is for. To be pedantic, they are not the actual government anymore when they don't follow the constitution, but they have to be killed all the same to clear space for the new legitimate government.

You are aware that the government can just drone strike you, right? Or have a cop gun you down (with qualified immunity, they won't even get any punishment!)

Yes. But that's a far-cry from where we are now. There are americans in positions of authority who would happily wield that type of violence against other americans. There are also americans in positions of authority who would be unhappy about it.

Imagine telling a bunch of 20 year olds in the national guard they're going to kill some dangerous domestic terrorists. Imagine What happens if they don't think those people are really dangerous.

With how the average cop/soldier of american origin acts, half of them would have fired the bullet before you finished the sentence "domestic terrorist".

> They have to be killed

Who have the power to do that? Does individual state have army?

That's where the armed bears come into play, isn't it?

I dunno, usa does not sounds like shining beacon. Between qualified immunity, asset forfeiture, and general acceptance of cops right to shoot you cause you have hands wrong ... plus justice in us is so expensive, that you likely can't afford it in the first place.

In principle I agree, and will admit that for a second I marvelled at the wisdom of your forefathers.

In practice, I fully expect that those rights are only a jedi mind-trick "Your rights are not being violated" away in any case where it is of actual consequence (e.g. Assange)

> In the US, our rights are innate and inalienable. We possess them because we exist.

Seems to me that about half your population no longer has an inalienable right to bodily autonomy.

Not to mention that once your security apparatus gets involved, your rights are as ephemeral as gossamer. Cross the wrong cop and you’ll find that your rights are terminated. Permanently and with extreme prejudice.

The Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on once you attract the attention of the government and it’s forces. Same as any citizen in every country on this planet.

The Constitution isn’t worth the paper it’s printed on once you attract the attention of the government and it’s forces. Same as any citizen in every country on this planet.

Clearly not true when you consider how many cases the government itself loses.

We apparently have differing understandings about “inalienable.”

Clearly the government does.

But that's the kicker. If the government does take inalienable rights away, you still have them, it's the gov't that needs correction, not the right.

> Seems to me that about half your population no longer has an inalienable right to bodily autonomy.

You are more than a century late. The government has prohibited people from putting drugs in their bodies for a long time. Alcohol, illegal drugs, pharmaceutical drugs rejected by the FDA... There is no serious interpretation of "body autonomy" that gives the government the right to ban alcohol/drugs but doesn't give it the right to stop women from killing fetuses.

Technically he's not required to tell anyone his passwords - this surveillance is part of the conditions for his temporary bail, and he can refuse them at any time; however, then the default conditions (i.e. going back to incarceration) would apply.

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