Do we need better protection?

Published by Australian Human Rights Commission, 2006

Australia has recently been urged by international human rights monitors to rethink the implementation of human rights in Australia. Comments included:

There are still areas in which the domestic legal system does not provide an effective remedy to persons whose rights under the [International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights] have been violated … [Australia] should take measures to give effect to all Covenant rights and freedoms. [11]

… there is no right of citizens to launch complaints in the local courts on the basis of the Convention on the Rights of the Child. [12]

Many Australians have come to the same conclusion. Former Chief Justice Sir Anthony Mason, for example, wrote in 1997:

Australia's adoption of a Bill of Rights would bring Australia in from the cold, so to speak, and make directly applicable the human rights jurisprudence which has developed internationally and elsewhere. That is an important consideration in that our isolation from that jurisprudence means that we do not have what is a vital component of other constitutional and legal systems, a component which has a significant impact on culture and thought, and is an important ingredient in the emerging world order that is reducing the effective choices open to the nation state. [13]

Academic expert on citizenship, Brian Galligan, states:

… the old confidence in the effectiveness of parliamentary responsible government and the common law for protecting human rights has been undermined by more realistic accounts of the weakness of parliament and the increasingly residual domain of common law compared with the plethora of statutory laws. [14]