Government cans human rights charter
The Federal Government will not introduce a law for a human rights charter, Attorney-General Robert McClelland said yesterday. Instead, the Government will establish a “Human Rights Framework”, Mr McClelland told the National Press Club.
The framework is the Government’s formal response to the Human Rights Consultation led by Fr Frank Brennan, which had recommended that Australia adopt a Human Rights Act.
Mr McClelland said a legislative charter of rights was not included in the framework “as the Government believes that the enhancement of human rights should be done in a way that, as far as possible, unites rather than divides our community”.
He said the Government would provide more than $6 million to the Australian Human Rights Commission over four years for community edcation, and would spend almost $4 million for human rights education and training for federal public servants.
“These resources will improve public service decision making with the potential to reduce disputes against Government,” Mr McClelland said.
The Attorney-General said the government would move to create a new Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights with the power “to initiate inquiries into Bills, existing Acts and delegated legislation as well as conduct broader human rights inquiries”.
The Government would introduce human rights compatability statements for new laws and regulations, explaining whether the new law or regulation was compatible with the seven core United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.
“The statements of compatibility will not detract from parliamentary sovereignty. Rather, they will inform Parliament of human rights considerations to assist its deliberation and ultimate determination of legislative outcomes,” Mr McClelland said.
The president of the Australian Human Rights Commission will be appointed as a permanent member of the Administrative Review Council. The ARC advises the Attorney General on whether the government’s administrative law processes are fair, honest, transparent and correct. The ARC’s presidency is currently vacant.