Australia's human rights protections are amongst the worst in the world, said the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA) following the Federal Government's decision to scrap the national Human Rights Bill.
ALA national president Mark Blumer called the Government's decision "shameful" and expressed his disappointment at what he says is an opportunity missed.
"Lack of political courage by a Government failing to act on the advice of those whose opinions it has sought, means Australia will be among those countries with the worst human rights protections in the world," he said.
Blumer also expressed concern that Australia's national identity and reputation could be seriously tarnished as a result.
"This ... comes at a time when other nations are pondering Australia's national psyche. Issues such as foreign national attacks, discriminatory policy towards asylum seekers, and a curbing of civil rights through tougher sentencing laws reflect on us poorly as a nation."
The ALA's outcry comes as many legal organisations and human rights advocates openly criticise the Government's decision to overlook a Human Rights Act in favour of a so-called Human Rights Framework, and the ALA has slammed the Attorney-General's reasoning that an Act would "divide the nation" as "political claptrap".
"We have a history of human rights abuses intertwined in government policy, with the White Australia Policy, the Stolen Generation and today, with the Northern Territory Intervention ... to name a few," he said.
"In contrast, jurisdictions that have introduced their own human rights Acts have seen improvements on a case-by-case basis when referred to the courts for consideration."
Blumer said the only option left now was for states to lobby independently for their own Human Rights Acts, such as those already in existence in Victoria and the ACT.