Human Rights Act Campaign Update


We are happy to report that we remain confident of achieving our goal to have our Human Rights Act tabled and debated in the federal parliament by the end of the year.

1. Position available: Executive Officer, Human Rights Act for Australia campaign

New Matilda requires an Executive Officer to coordinate the Human Rights Act for Australia campaign. Applications due Thursday 25 May. More

2. Victorian Charter of Rights introduced into parliament!

Earlier this week Victorian Attorney General, The Hon Rob Hulls, introduced the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Bill to the Parliament. When it is passed, Victoria will become the first State to have enacted legislation to protect rights. We congratulate the Victorian Government for their commitment to human rights. Download the Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Bill.

3. Human rights threats

There have been several recent threats to human rights in Australia:

Children back behind razor-wire

On Easter Thursday the Government announced changes to migration laws that breach the Convention Relating to the Treatment of Refugees 1951, further demonstrating why we need a Human Rights Act. Under the changes, all people arriving by boat would be removed to another country to be processed. It is expected that these changes will reverse the hard won changes achieved last year that saw children removed form behind razor wire.

See Julian Burnside’s article ‘Unfair Go‘ article in New Matilda on the proposed changes.

Several organisations are running campaigns to oppose these worrying changes including Get Up, A Just Australia and Amnesty International.

Phone tap law rushed through parliament

The Federal Parliament has rushed through another piece of legislation despite concerns from within its own ranks and from a Senate committee about the lack of safeguards. The Telecommunications (Interception) Amendment Act will allow ‘the Government to read private emails, text messages and other stored communications without our knowledge’. Read more in an article by Professor George Williams and David Human in the SMH.

ID ‘Smart’ Card

The federal cabinet recently assessed a proposal to establish a national ID ‘Smart’ Card. So far many questions remain unanswered on the issue. A Human Rights Act would force the federal government to consider the human rights implications and ensure that there is no unnecessary restriction of rights. Download our press release.

4. Recent article: ‘Why do we need a bill of rights?‘ Sir Anthony Mason

Sir Anthony Mason explains why he favours the adoption of a statutory Bill of Rights and rejects the constitutional United States model.

5. Launches

The Perth Launch was a great success with over 250 people turning up to hear Dr Carmen Lawrence, Prof David Malcolm , Ex-CJ of the Western Australia Supreme Court, and A/Prof Spencer Zifcak. Read David Ritter’s report on the event, ‘Human Rights in the Western Third‘.

The Darwin launch is scheduled to occur in mid-July and the Melbourne launch is scheduled to occur in mid-August. The Victorian launch will involve the release of the final version of the Bill and will mark the beginning of the Advocacy stage of the campaign.

6. Submission deadline extended

The submission deadline has been extended until the end of June. If you
or your organisation hasn’t made a submission, please consider doing
so. For more information, visit here. The draft Bill will be refined on the basis of the suggestions made in these submissions.

7. How can you help the campaign?




Nick Carney
Campaign Executive Officer

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.