Senator George Brandis.
Senator George Brandis.

Senator brings debate to Gympie

THE man who put former Rainbow Shores lobbyist Mike Kaiser back into the media last month, Queensland Senator George Brandis, visited Gympie on Friday night.

A Senate estimates hearing in early February heard evidence backing Sen Brandis’ claims of questionable dealings with the Federal Government, with revelations that Mr Kaiser won a lucrative and unadvertised job as government affairs adviser with the National Broadband Network Co, on a salary exceeding that of Prime Minister Kevin Rudd.

Those revelations led to Communications Minister Stephen Conroy admitting to the hearing that he had intervened in support of Mr Kaiser’s appointment, despite Mr Kaiser’s claimed lack of corporate experience.

Sen Brandis is also the one who drew the flak from Opposition leader Tony Abbott, after Mr Abbott’s public discussion of his advice to his daughters on virginity.

With his leader under attack from Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Sen Brandis described her as a “one dimensional person” who would not understand parents because she had chosen not to be one.

But the increasingly high profile Sen Brandis was not here to talk about Mr Kaiser, the discredited former Labor MP and ex-Bligh Government adviser, once a lobbyist (along with state Infrastructure Minister Stirling Hinchliffe) for the Rainbow Shores Stage Two development proposal at Rainbow Beach.

Nor was he here to talk about Ms Gillard, whom he accused of over-reacting to Mr Abbott’s statements.

The Senator, who is Shadow Attorney General, was here to talk about human rights, at a fundraising dinner organised by local officials of the Liberal National Party.

He told about 55 people at the dinner that a Bill of Rights could actually erode human rights in Australia, if it resulted in powers being taken from the elected Parliament and transferred to the judiciary, which is not subject to election.

Speaking without notes, the Senator said a Bill of Rights would potentially erode democracy and damage the political rights of future generations, by enshrining this generation’s concerns into law.

He said a Bill of Rights would take away the rights and responsibilities of the Parliament, which is elected and give them to the judiciary, which is composed of judges who are appointed for life.

He said attempts to introduce this through ordinary legislation amounted to an attempt to change the Australian Constitution, without citizens being heard through a national referendum.

The judiciary were not elected and they would be politicised by such a measure, he said.

He said Australia, as a working democracy, had runs on the board, with a number of freedoms including free speech and the right to vote, indicating its commitment to the democratic rights of its citizens.

He told guests that such a change was effectively an amendment to the Constitution and should go to a referendum of all Australians rather than a vote of Parliament alone.

Organiser of the function, Teresa Cobb, yesterday described the Senator’s address as “an excellent speech.”

Sen Brandis has been a Liberal Senator for Queensland since May 2000, when he was appointed to fill a casual Senate vacancy.

He was re-elected in 2004.

Born in Sydney and raised in Brisbane, he has legal qualifications from the University of Queensland and Oxford University in Britain.

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