All new laws will be checked against human rights standards in a new Act that came into effect this week.
The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 requires all new bills and disallowable legislative instruments to be accompanied by a statement of compatibility with human rights. Statements will assess compatibility against the seven main United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.
Federal Attorney General Nicola Roxon said the new law ensure the key principles of freedom, respect, equality and dignity are considered in everything the Commonwealth Parliament does.
“Ensuring that new laws have considered the protection and promotion of human rights is long overdue," she said.
“Australia has a proud human rights record that will be further strengthened by enshrining the consideration of human rights in the development of our nation’s laws.
“This important step is part of Australia’s Human Rights Framework and will give the community confidence that their human rights are being recognised and respected in everything the Parliament does.”
Australia’s Human Rights Framework was developed following the Government’s National Human Rights Consultation and is a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen understanding and respect for human rights including consolidating Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation and releasing a new National Human Rights Action Plan.
The Act also establishes a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights—the first Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee dedicated solely to human rights scrutiny—which will be established by a resolution of appointment in the Autumn 2012 Parliamentary sittings.