Government urged to implement recommendations of human rights inquiry

30th May 2024

The federal parliamentary inquiry’s recommendation that Australia should adopt its first ever federal Human Rights Act is welcomed by the Australian Lawyers Alliance (ALA).

“We urge the Government to accept the recommendations of this inquiry. A federal legislative Human Rights Act would benefit us all but would especially lead to significant, positive, life-changing outcomes for some of the most vulnerable people in our community,” said Shaun Marcus, National President, Australian Lawyers Alliance.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights has today tabled its final report arising from the Inquiry into Australia's Human Rights Framework.

“A federal Human Rights Act would ensure that those who wield power are subject to a code of conduct that would prevent them from exercising this power in a way that infringes upon people’s rights,” said Mr Marcus. “We strongly support the committee’s recommendations that human rights must be considered when public servants and politicians are developing laws and policies.

“There are many examples of significant litigation where breaches of fundamental rights were at the heart of the case. In so many of these cases a federal Human Rights Act would have either prevented the problem arising or resulted in a better outcome.

The ALA also welcomes the committee’s recommendation that the Federal Government seeks further advice on the courts being classified as public authorities.

“It is important for the successful operation of a federal Human Rights Act that the courts are included within the definition of public authority in their own right,” said Mr Marcus.

Drawing on the experiences in Victoria, the ACT and Queensland, the ALA says there is evidence that important and practical human rights protections can be achieved when legislative human rights instruments are in place.

“We need to catch up with accepted and developing international standards when it comes to protecting the human rights of our citizens,” said Mr Marcus.  “Human rights laws are positive and effective mechanisms for safeguarding the dignity and well-being of everyone in a healthy democracy.

“A federal Human Rights Act would not only deliver protection and freedoms but ensure that governments and leaders are accountable to the Australian people.”

Tags: Human rights Human rights act