You only own what you can protect

Don’s Diary

“You only own what you can protect”. Is that a reasonable proposition? Most would argue that the view represents someone in a lawless society and one with an incompetent government, etc. However, how far from the truth is it?

We expect governments to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves – the defence of the nation, the regulation of financial institutions and business, external affairs, communications, public health, customs and so on. Some however see the role of government extending to the creation of a “nanny state” or welfare and protecting the lazy rather than just the needy and those that cannot or do not want to look after themselves.

Since the end of WW2, Western economies have been reshaped and we can now see the result in some countries. One could be excused for believing that we are well down the path of Greece, Portugal, Ireland and the United States. Thank the GAOU that we have some good quarries and a good customer. As I write, I see that the Governor of the Reserve Bank has just said that we must forget excuses and work to create greater productivity and the Bureau of Statistics tells us that half the States in Australia are facing recession. Some would say that the only way we can protect ourselves from this situation is by that most democratic right at the ballot box. Don’t have hopes too high, however, as it is that nature of a democracy that one does not need an IQ test to vote!

We can protect our freedom of speech if we continue to have a deregulated media but that is now at risk. The exception to this are the racial vilification laws where it is an offence to speak, even if it is the truth, if somebody feels offended rather than suffering any damage. It is hard to protect a reputation because a lie told often tends to tarnish.

The Australian Constitution prevents property from being taken by the Commonwealth without just compensation. A caveat can be placed on a property in which you have an interest. Property can be held in Trust to protect your interests and help save people from themselves. However, the Courts can undo Trusts. In reviewing wills, good current legal advice is needed on this matter.

Freemasons in Victoria in Centres like ours at Gipps Street have their interests in their property protected by the Associations Incorporation Act 1981. In some other clubs, societies and fraternities, properties are managed in different ways. One could be excused for thinking that some management for the time being assuming that they hold an unfettered title to the property, often wanting to undo 100 years or so of work. They disregard the interests of generations of members who have used and contributed to these properties and want to continue to do so but do not actually hold the title. Such managers would better serve their members and future generations by not selling real estate in prime positions but using their energies to build on success – perhaps some are a victim of the Peter Principle (qv) and do not know how.

Has anyone ever heard of a proposal to sell the central London’s Freemasons’ Hall? It was originally built on this site in 1776, the present building built between 1927 and 1933, the third on the site! It has the all important “position”. Perhaps some should look at “Grand Designs” on the ABC rather contemplate revisionism and vandalism.

Perhaps the managers pro tem are unaware of the power of “class actions” to protect the interests of ordinary people in these circumstances and the willingness of specialist legal firms, and there are at least three in Melbourne (Shine, Slater and Gordon and Maurice Blackburn), to accept a brief on a pro bono basis or for a success fee. This is a link to one of them: . High profile cases are particularly attractive to them because of the resultant publicity. Action is better than having a property sold from under you – you are not powerless! Sometimes, unfortunately, one has to defend one’s interests.

It is taking action to protect our interests and our way of life that has always characterised Australians and distinguished us from the citizens of failed States. But it takes guts and often the tenacity to deal with bullies!

Yours fraternally

Don Paterson