THE country's first legal officer today welcomed the passage of laws designed to enhance the protection of human rights in Australia.
The reforms will work to bolster greater consideration of Australia’s human rights obligations in creating new laws, said Attorney General Robert McClelland.
The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 requires Ministers, when introducing legislation or creating a disallowable legislative instrument, to table a Statement of Compatibility with Australia’s human rights obligations.
The Bill also establishes a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights. The government said today that this is the first Commonwealth parliamentary committee dedicated solely to human rights scrutiny.
“The Statement of Compatibility will promote better dialogue between the Executive and the Parliament on human rights considerations. And, in turn, the establishment of the Committee will promote that dialogue with the Australian community who will be able to make submissions to the Committee on how their rights will be impacted by proposed legislation,” said McClelland.
“Combined, these measures represent a significant enhancement of the Government’s protection of the human rights of all Australians and represents a small, but not insignificant, enhancement of participatory democracy in our Country,” McClelland said.
The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) (Consequential Provisions) Bill provides that the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission will become an ex officio member of the Administrative Review Council to ensure that a human rights perspective is integrated into the discussions of the Council.
“Together these Bills protect and promote human rights in Australia and implement key legislative elements of Australia’s Human Rights Framework. They encourage consideration of human rights early on in the development of policy and legislation, and will improve Parliamentary scrutiny of the compatibility of legislation with human rights,” McClelland said.