Rudd’s rush to silence cursing unionist is a Howard hallmark

The actions of Kevin Rudd in seeking to have a trade union official expelled from the Labor Party because of words that the official spoke, reflect a continuing assault on the rights of individuals to speak freely without fear or favour.

Evidently such an abuse is no longer the prerogative only of Government.

Censorship of words and phrases because they may make some politicians uncomfortable is deplorable.

Yet the erosion of fundamental democratic rights, such as freedom of speech, expression and action has been steadfast in this setting in recent times.

In the present case, such censorship reflects more on the censor than the trade union official.

The basic tenets of democracy we learnt in primary school don’t apply when they could dent the aspirations of our political leaders.

Clearly there is a substantial gap between the ideals we were taught and those we practice.

The continuing loss of basic rights and protections over the past 10 years coupled with the bullying and abusive tactics employed by some employers require a direct and vigorous response.

In such circumstances, the trade union official is obliged to employ the tactics legally available.

In this context, most of us have used strong language sometimes and, in differing situations, might even find such language intemperate. Does this deserve dismissal? I don’t think so.

Rudd is obviously uncomfortable with this freedom of expression, so what.

His discomfort suggests he should consider his own position rather than that of the trade union official.

His bullying tactics to stifle debate are merely more reflective of the hallmark abuses of the present Government than those of a genuine advocate of human, workplace and democratic rights.

James Grenfell, Spence(Letter Canberra Times)

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