In the Canberra Times the Liberals’ Vicki Dunne has a wonderfully self serving argument that the Human Rights Commissioner disagreeing with Vicki Dunne is proof of a dysfunctional human rights system.
But there’s a broader epic unfolding here.
It began on 7 September when Lanyon High School principal Bill Thompson got his picture in the paper with his campaign to get local shops to stop serving the students of his school who’ve chosen to not attend.
Bill went so far as to indirectly threaten the shops with a parental boycott if they didn’t play ball.
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Then on 10 September it appeared that Kingsley’s Chicken had decided they had more to gain by serving the kids than losing parental money.
This was sold as a high moral stand:
School-wagging pupils have ”a right” to be served, says Kingsley Varr, owner of Kingsley’s Chicken.
He says a sweet drink might save a student’s life, even if they are cutting class.
This lead the Human Rights Commission to note that it’s not up to shop owners to discriminate just to make a school principle happy:
In a letter to The Canberra Times, Dr Watchirs and Mr Roy wrote that they supported the decision of the fried chicken outlet to serve children in school uniform.
”We support the action of Kingsley’s Chicken in resisting calls to refuse service to children during school hours, as to not serve school students raises issues of discrimination and human rights, and, as the retailer correctly identified, may actually be unlawful,” Mr Roy and Dr Watchirs wrote.
”The ACT Discrimination Act 1991 makes it unlawful for a provider of goods and services to refuse service based on a number of attributes, such as age, and any retailer considering refusing service should be mindful of these obligations.”
Which is where Vicki Dunne comes in arguing that human rights should be thrown out the window if they’re getting in the way of an anti-truancy drive:
Ms Dunne said the commissioners’ comments showed the human rights system was dysfunctional, ideologically driven and lacking in common sense.
Or maybe we could try running a school the kids want to go to?
UPDATE: VIcki’s media release is now online:
This is yet another example where this legislation is being applied for all the wrong reasons, in all the wrong ways and in all the wrong places,” Mrs Dunne said. “Jon Stanhope has created a human rights system where ideology trumps practicality.
“It’s extraordinary that the resources of the Human Rights Commissioner are going into making comments about a principal’s idea to limit truancy at his school, yet we are being told the Commissioner doesn’t have the resources to make a detailed inspection of the correctional facilities in the ACT to investigate assaults that have occurred.
This also comes after the Human Rights Commissioner issued a nine page report into the human rights implications of the recent shopping trolley legislation.