Apartheid-style legislation is incompatible with human rights

29th Jun 2012

The Federal Government’s recklessness in pushing through parliament, with the support of some Opposition MPs, racist legislation, that sets the rights of Indigenous people in the Northern Territory back decades, will not go unchallenged, the Australian Lawyers Alliance said today.

The ALA today issued a Statement of Incompatibility on the Stronger Futures legislation after it was passed following an 11th hour addition to the parliamentary agenda in what looks like a deliberate bid to impede the democratic process.

The legislation significantly undermines the right to self determination, the right to equality before the law, and the right to be free from discrimination.

“Our Incompatibility Statement is a direct response to the Indigenous Affairs Minister, Jenny Macklin’s Compatibility Statement. Our statement shows where the Minister’s office has got it wrong and just how badly this legislation impacts on Aboriginal lives,” ALA National President, Greg Barns, said.

“The rushed recklessness on the part of government and Opposition MPs to surreptitiously push this through parliament shows an awareness that it has it wrong,” Mr Barns said.

“The ALA believes the government understood the international guidance given by the United Nations on the subject, but it chose not to follow that guidance when creating the legislation as 'a special measure'.

"This is seen through its own selective reference to General Recommendation 32 on special measures in its own assessment.

"While the assessment cannot be relied upon in a court of law, the process by which it was released and rushed reflects poorly on Ms Macklin and her department.

“The ALA stands by all human rights groups and Indigenous people in opposing this legislation.

"Yesterday represented a dark day in Australian politics for Indigenous human rights – but the fight is not over,” Mr Barns said.

Tags: Human rights Northern Territory Indigenous rights Stronger Futures in the Northern Territory