Monday, June 25, 2012

Jottings - the environment, entitlements and the High Court with a dash of media

I have very little time tonight, so am just following up on a few earlier posts.

This graphic from Global Awakening circulated by a Facebook friend raised my ire. I sincerely hope that those who like this neither drive cars nor use electricity!

I have written a fair bit in one way or another about the interaction between humans and landscape and about ways in which farmers are trying to improve land management. There is a huge conflict between this and idealised dreams of preserving "wilderness" or restoring landscape to some idealised version of the past. Still, that's really the subject of another diatribe!

My posts Lorenzo on monetary policy, Winton on Laura Tingle, death of Helen Beh and some Sydney lights and Saturday Morning Meanderings - English summer, shorts & entitlements and associated discussion generated an interesting companion post from Winton Bates, When is a sense of entitlement justified?. At one level, Winton and I are in furious agreement, at another level not.

As an English word, entitlement carries a very specific meaning. At a second level, it has come to be used to describe a set of attitudes, a sense of entitlement. My problems lie with the second. I think used in this way the word confuses rather than clarifies.

At the end of High Court asserts the power of Parliament, I expressed the hope that Legal eagle would explain the implications of the school chaplain court case to us all. She did so in High Court Chaplaincy case and government contracting. kvd, a regular commenter on both blogs, expressed his continuing confusion. I share that confusion. The decision followed the earlier decision in the Brian Pape case and in a sense amplifies elements of that decision.

To my mind, the issue is not contracting as such, although the case has led the Commonwealth to foreshadow rushed legislation to validate a whole series of previous arrangements. Rather, the whole imbroglio appears to have profound implications for the workings of Government, with something of a baby and bath water flavour. Mind you, that's a dreadfully mixed concept!

Finally, with the apparently forced resignation of no less than three top Fairfax editors I am feeling the need to return to issues canvassed in Newspaper decline, market segmentation & a reality check. I don't have answers. I just want to pose some questions reflecting some of my previous analysis as well as my continuing confusions.


Anonymous said...


Just a further thought on my tongue in cheek comment that the High Court annoyingly only ever decides upon what is put before it, without offering suggested remedies. It occurs to me that here we have the most learned of judges spending many hours contemplating all the appropriate factors (argued before them by some of our most highly qualified barristers) before making their decision. Then the ball gets tossed back to the Government to produce a 'fix' - which itself may be the subject of further court action. This just seems an enormous waste of resource to me.

Why couldn't the HC be requested to apply what it has been forced to think about towards providing possible remedy/s? (A sort of addendum to their deliberations)

"Separation of powers" I hear you say, and I accept that, but I'm not talking about creation of policy - more the efficient, lawful implementation of same.


Rod said...

Just a couple of musings on my part regarding the media landscape. I was quite interested in Media Watch and 4-Corners last night, like you I see lots of problems but the solutions to newspaper woes are not entirely clear. There has been about 10 years where this has been the case so the more shocking answers (paying for internet newspapers, etc) are becoming louder and more necessary since the alternative is no more decent journalism.

However, speaking about decent journalism, I note that the last 10 years have already had an impact. The High Court case discussed is an example. All of the media have portrayed the 'chaplains' case as one of the separation of church and state etc. In reality it is just about who contractors are paid by and who they are responsible for. Why is it so hard for most journalists these days to tell us the truth about a matter, not beat it into something that it is not.

Rod said...

I just thought about what I just said. Of course the appellant in the High Court Case said that his motivation was anti government support for anything resembling religion. Even though the trojan horse was actually regarding the management and engagement of contractors.

Jim Belshaw said...

I suppose the short answer, kvd, is that its not the High Court's job to sort out the Government's problems but to interpret the law. As you say, separation of powers. Think of the problems that might arise if the High Court were to say to Government on an unpopular or divisive measure, this is how you might get to do what you want!

Jim Belshaw said...

Rod, I wonder if you are mixing different things together? I need to think about this, but I'm not sure that the reporting on the High Court case was worse than ten years ago!

Anonymous said...

Jim believe me, I do take the point about separation of powers, but sometimes it makes you wonder, with a parliament chock full of lawyers, just what is the use of such separation.

Anyway, it's all been solved by the rushed passing of legislation on Tuesday. Or has it:

- courtesy of a link provided by legaleagle.


Jim Belshaw said...

With a parliament full of lawyers, don't we need separation kvd? Thanks for the link.

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