Summary of New Matilda's draft Human Rights Bill



What rights does the draft Bill seek to protect?

The draft Bill contains the following categories of human rights:

civil and political rights including

  • protection from torture and cruel and inhuman or degrading treatment
  • right to liberty and security of the person
  • freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
  • the right to peaceful assembly and freedom of speech
  • rights of indigenous people
  • right to a fair trial

economic and social rights including

  • education
  • work
  • adequate standard of living
  • physical wellbeing and health
  • social security

Reasonable limits may be placed on these rights where they are justified in a free and democratic society. There is also a provision that allows certain rights to be limited in the event of a public emergency .

How does the draft Bill protect these rights?

  • through the Government “ specifically the Attorney-General, who has obligations to the Parliament to examine legislation and report on its compatibility with human rights
  • through the Parliament “ specifically through a Parliamentary Joint Standing Committee who must
    • review compatibility statements made by the Attorney-General
    • consider declarations of incompatibility made by Courts (see below)
    • report on the matters it has considered to the Parliament and to the responsible Minister
  • through the Courts, which
    • must, so far as it is possible, read legislation in a way which is compatible with human rights
    • may make declarations of incompatibility which are then reported to the parliament
    • may invalidate secondary legislation (regulations)
  • through the members of the public, who
    • may bring proceedings in the Courts against any public authority which has acted (or proposes to act) in a way which is incompatible with human rights
  • please note that courts are not empowered to invalidate legislation; this important power is retained by the parliament

Please let us know what you think of the draft Bill either through a written submission or through the forum – click here.

Download this 1-page summary as a word file here.

Download the complete draft Bill  here.

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