For a short time today it appeared that the Shooters and Fishers Party was going to do the right thing and block the draconian legislation of the O’Farrell banning the right to remain silent. Early on, reports indicated that SFP was joining the Greens and Labor in blocking it, only to result in a later report that they had supported the government to pass it.
The right to freedom of speech is fundamental in all civilized societies, but has been under serious attack recently, especially by federal Labor after constant erosion over the years. The right to remain silent is a fundamental part of the right to freedom of speech, in that speech is not really free if there is no right not to speak. The government and the SFP are claiming the right to make you talk.
Labor has little to hang its hat on in opposing this measure; they disagree with it because it is not strong enough:
Opposition Leader John Robertson said Labor would vote against it because it was so "watered down" it was unworkable: "The Attorney-General clearly recognises the major flaws with this legislation, given it has been watered down to the point where it will barely be useable or enforceable.
"If the Premier was serious about stopping organised crime he would use the legislation the parliament passed a year ago and ban the gangs who are shooting up Sydney streets.
Such a ban as Robertson is calling for is stupid and unworkable, as well as establishing a framework for banning any organization the government develops a dislike for. The right to freedom of association is also critical to liberty.
Siding with the government is actually a stunning reversal by SFP given the statement in the earlier article by SFP MP Robert Borsak, a man who must have a very flexible set of principles with expedience being one of them:
The Shooters and Fishers Party, which normally votes with the government, yesterday confirmed it too would oppose the legislation.
Shooters and Fishers MP Robert Borsak said the minor party was concerned about how the legislation would affect their constituents. "Given the terrible abuse of power that we've seen in relation to firearm dealers and law-abiding firearm owners, we could not possibly support this," Mr Borsak said. …
The record of the SFP has always been more about protecting their own turf, rather than supporting the rights of their constituency. Two other parties with strong support for the rights of gun owners and fishermen are the Liberal Democratic Party, and the Outdoor Recreation Party. Rather than supporting like-minded parties, SFP tends to give their preferences to the LNP, which was the party that passed the current gun laws shooters are angry about.
They are considered so ineffective by the anti gun frantics, that they were preferenced into two seats in the recent Western Australian election by the greatest gun grabbers of them all, the Greens. Former Greens leader, Bob Brown is on record for demanding tougher gun laws here using a shooting in Germany as a pretext.
It will be interesting to discover just what sort of underhand deal was done by SFP to secure their support, especially after such a strong statement of ‘principle’ by Borsak. It could be some minor concession to shooters, or some benefits such as extra staff to their MPs. Either way, everyone including their supporters have lost out on this decision. It is now a case of, anyone accused of anything rightly or wrongly has lost their option to remain silent in the face of aggressive police questioning.
Borsak and his party need to understand that legislation should be based on the fundamental rights of the individual in a free society, and the rule of law, not on the basis of, “You scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours."