The controversy over Qantas’ ban on banning men from sitting next to unaccompanied children on flights has highlighted some very important human rights issues.
Firstly, as a private organisation Qantas has every right to enforce whatever seating arrangements it wishes.
Secondly, as private citizens we have every right to complain about this policy. We can voice disapproval, we can boycott the airline or we can do what ACT man, my friend Kevin Gill did and climb a tree and refuse to come down until the policy is changed.
Thirdly, as a public servant, Human Rights Commissioner, Joris De Bres, has no right to take any action or make any statement against Qantas whatsoever. This is private business, between private citizens and a New Zealand public servant has no right to be involved.
Fourthly, as Air NZ is largely owned by the NZ government, there is an arguement that De Bres has a right to get involved.
The point is that in a free society, there should be no anti discrimination laws effecting private citizens. Only the state should be limited from discriminating on certain grounds, notably race. In NZ we have the reverse in play. Private citizens are banned from discriminating on a whole raft of criteria while the state can discriminate on all sorts of grounds.
The Human Rights Commission should be restricted to monitoring state discrimination or, even better, should be abolished entirely. Private citizens should be free to discriminate according to their own conscience. After all we should remember that true discrimination (judging people according to rational standards)is a great virtue. Discrimination is essential to maintain a free society, but it should be a right reserved for private citizens, not the state.