While PIAC continues to assert the need for comprehensive protections for human rights in the form of a Human Rights Act, PIAC welcomes the fact that the Bills adopt a more expansive interpretation of human rights than what has been included in human rights legislation in Victoria and the ACT, by referring to Australia’s obligations under seven international instruments. PIAC submits that there are still a number of key human rights instruments to which Australia is a party, which are not included in the definition. Accordingly, PIAC submits that the definition of ‘human rights’ in the Bills should include all of the human rights and freedoms contained in all core human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, and also any human rights treaties or conventions to which Australia will become a party in the future.
PIAC also submits that the initiatives proposed in the Bills would be enhanced by:
- providing that International law and foreign and domestic jurisprudence be considered in determining the scope and content of the rights and freedoms recognised by an international instrument;
- providing for the Joint Committee on Human Rights to conduct an inquiry into any matter relating to human rights in Australia, upon reference from either House of Parliament;
- ensuring that the Joint Committee on Human Rights has appropriate capacity and access to relevant human rights law expertise for it to be able to undertake an appropriately rigorous examination of Bills for Acts, legislative instruments and current Acts for compatibility with human rights;
- providing that further Parliamentary debate on a Bill does not take place until the Joint Committee on Human Rights Report is available for consideration;
- providing that the Statement of Compatibility is to be presented to the House before giving the Second Reading Speech;
- providing more detail as to what is required in a statement of compatibility.
REPLACES VERSION WRITTEN BY LOUIS SCHETZER, BRENDA BAILEY DATED 14 JULY 2010 10 PAGES – Record Number 889