President Donald Trump is putting enormous strain on the institutions and rules that have made the US democracy such a success. His direct, personal attacks on judges threaten the independence and standing of the judiciary. A willingness to govern by executive order also undermines the role of Congress as the nation's primary lawmaker.
So far, the US system has met these challenges and is holding the new President to his proper role. Courts have not bowed to pressure and have put a stop on his immigration bans. Members of Congress have also pushed back on the President's initiatives, and the media has reported fearlessly on his early days in office.
These events beg the question of how Australia's institutions would respond if we had a Prime Minister and cabinet (our executive branch of government) seeking to follow Trump's lead. The short answer is that we may not fare so well.
Queensland human rights advocates have had many reasons to celebrate this year. The QLD Government has made progress on youth justice, LGBTI rights, reproductive rights and more. Most recently the QLD Government announced plans to introduce a Human Rights Act.
Essentially, a Human Rights Act means that the government need to take human rights into account when making all major decisions that could have an impact on human rights.
THE Brennan report should come as no surprise. It has been apparent for many years that there are major problems with human rights protection in Australia. The report catalogues this from the ground up. It is a historic initiative, built on the stories of thousands of Australians from across the nation.
The report should be welcomed for this, as well as for recommending that Australia enact a human rights act.
While human rights problems come to light periodically in the media, the report shows that many Australians live with their rights being breached daily. This includes people in aged care, Aboriginal Australians, people suffering mental illnesses and children with disabilities.
Despite being often avoidable, these problems continue to cause grave distress and harm to those involved. Remedial action is often absent, and may only occur if the story reaches the media and so comes with the possibility of political embarrassment.