The Federal Government has today announced the introduction of a bill to enhance parliamentary scrutiny of human rights as a key part its Human Rights Framework.
After announcing the decision to scrap plans for a national human rights act in April this year, the Government promised to implement its Human Rights Framework to ensure the fundamental rights of Australians are protected.
The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 establishes a new Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights to examine and report to Parliament on the compatibility of legislation with Australia's international human rights obligations.
The Committee will have representation from both houses of Parliament and will have the power to initiate inquiries into Bills, existing Acts and delegated legislation, as well as conduct broader human rights inquiries.
"This will be the first Parliamentary Committee, at a federal level, dedicated to human rights scrutiny," said Attorney-General Robert McClelland in his announcement.
In addition to the new Committee, the Bill introduces a requirement that each new bill introduced into Parliament be accompanied by a Statement of Compatibility with our international human rights obligations.
"The Statements will assist in explaining the purpose and intent of legislation, to contextualise human rights considerations, and where appropriate, justify restrictions or limitations on rights in the interests of other individuals or society more generally," McClelland said.
"These measures are about ensuring that the business of Government, as a matter of practice, has regard to how legislation impacts on the rights of ordinary citizens."