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Terry Lane

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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Australians quite like the idea of freedom of speech, except in almost any situation you can think of. We hold that speaking freely is acceptable and commendable except when it is rude, upsetting, unpatriotic, in poor taste, or blocks the traffic.


Dear Editor,

I am flabbergasted at the savage, totally unjustified hatchet job that Richard Hall has done on Hugh Mackay in the National Library Voices Essay (ABR, Feb/March 1996). Is the National Library now paying for character assassination?

I know both Hugh Mackay and Richard Hall. I think that the Pot should always think carefully before calling the Pan sooty-arse. If Mr Mackay looks like ‘a possum thinking about an apple’, the curmudgeonly Mr Hall looks a bit like the possum’s bum.

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