Charles Dickens must have felt there was some truth to the thought, as the character of Mr Bumble expresses this sentiment in Oliver Twist.
I have been trying to find a way to seek restitution from the Government for the financial, emotional and physical costs incurred during our journey. It seems that should I be careless or negligent and have a car accident, I am liable and held accountable for any damage caused, but should a government department be careless or negligent and nearly destroy people’s lives, that is just bad luck. I find this not only incomprehensible but morally reprehensible. If a person is wrongfully imprisoned, that person is entitled to compensation. If a person is injured at work, the employer may be liable if the workplace is found to be unsafe. I must have insurance in case someone trips on my steps and breaks a leg, for goodness sake.
Yet it seems that if a citizen suffers loss and damage at the hands of the government, the government escapes. No accountability, no responsibility, no liability. I am not, sadly, a lawyer. I wish I was, for then I may be able to find an avenue for legal action. While I believe the legal advice I have received today, from a very eminent practitioner, I can’t believe it. I believe the advice is legally correct, yet I can’t believe we allow such a situation to exist. This is supposed to be an advanced civilisation, yet we allow government departments to be at best careless or negligent and at worst wilfully deny civil rights without ANY responsibility attached to those actions?
I am not giving up just yet, but clearly the law is not on my side. More will suffer a similar fate, unless we can bring about change.
Was Mr Bumble correct?
I quote a passage from my conversation with the aforementioned legal practitioner:
The ICCPR is not part of our domestic law in Australia. It does not create any rights recognised by Australian law. Denial of the rights referred to in ICCPR does not give rise to any cause of action known to Australian law.
It should not be so, but it is.
Crazy. As a nation, we are a signatory. We can lodge a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission under the ICCPR, but we don’t embrace the provisions in our domestic law (as I have previously stated). The logic is…………. may I suggest, non-existent!
Edit August 3: Thank you to The Civil Rights Daily for covering our story today.
EDIT May 2012: Since writing this article, further information has come to light. There are mechanisms in place to claim certain financial losses if they are proven to be as a result of defective administration. So even now, some nine months after I wrote the original piece, I still keep learning new things.
[…] Is the law an ass? […]
[…] in my opinion, directly related to what I was put through. Yet as we already know, restitution of any sort is not possible under Australian law. So I just have to live with the damage and try as best I can to reduce the pace of the […]
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[…] all a question of legally correct, so we are back to the advice I received earlier and discussed in Is the Law an Ass? Basically, the government can rip your life apart and is not responsible in any way. Is this […]
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Don;t give up, but as you already know, the law is a complex, bureaucratic animal… Where does one start? Best wishes as we are always rooting for you! 🙂
Thanks, Elizabeth, but it does look like the only way to restore our financial situation is for me to write a very good book and hope we get published! 🙂
I did get advice from the best, a very kind hearted person who thought deeply about our situation. So I really do doubt there is any legal avenue, which is a terrible situation.
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The law is as good or bad as the people who make it, the people who interpret it, and the people who inforce it. The law is never objective. Hang it there.
The law is, it seems, somewhat inconsistent. Illogical. It should be objective.
Thanks for the support, Paul!
Mr. Bumble was correct.
Thanks, my friend. I think so too.
Good luck my friend. I think compassion and common decency are a thing of the past as far as the law is concerned… but I wish you all the best. The Government does owe your family….BIG TIME…in a just world!
Thanks, Mark. Not quite the same as your situation – you at least had a case to begin with – but I know you have a personal understanding of this type of situation, where the little person is not worthy of protection. It is an awful indictment of both our societies. You situation is much worse, however, as you had a case that fell apart due to circumstances beyond your control and your personal loss is much greater.
One has to have a mind to be accountable for it. Same goes for a heart.
Funny how the government has the idea it is there to dictate to people how things are done instead of taking responsibility for the running of a country. So I guess the law is not an ass, just the people who are supposed to make and enforce it are.
Still, there may be hope in there somewhere for you.
There may still be hope. Clearly it would be an unprecendented situation. The legal practitioner feels for our situation, he just can’t think of an avenue and if anyone could, he would be able to!