James Waghorne and Stuart Macintyre: Liberty

Barely a peep from the public

Terry Lane


Liberty: A History of Civil Liberties in Australia
by James Waghorne and Stuart Macintyre
UNSW Press, $59.95 hb, 240 pp, 9781742232652


In 1988 the Hawke government put a constitutional amendment to a referendum. On the recommendation of the government’s Constitution Commission, we were invited to vote to enshrine guarantees of trial by jury, property rights, and freedom of religion. The proposition was rejected by all states. There is nothing surprising in that. We almost always do vote against constitutional amendment because the politicians of the right have always succeeded in persuading us that the original document (a free trade agreement between the federating colonies) is perfect and, in any case, any proposal for change is a left-wing plot to deprive her majesty’s loyal subjects of their common law freedoms.

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Published in November 2011 no. 336

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