Session Details

Plenary: Human rights protection in Australia: A great unfinished project

3.50pm

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11 March 2022

About this session

Inserting a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution was suggested in the Constitutional convention debates of the 1890s. It was rejected by a majority of the delegates. British subjects could rely on elected Parliaments to ‘’fix things up’’ if ever basic rights were neglected or diminished. The intervening years have revealed that confidence to be unfounded in UK, Canada, New Zealand and just about everywhere else. The Brennan report urged a very soft human rights Charter. But even this has not happened nationally in Australia. Our record with First Nations people, women, ethnic minorities, race, the LGBTIQ+ community, people with diverse abilities, targets of security laws, climate change, nuclear weapons and other existential issues demonstrate our need to stimulate the law and our elected legislatures. But how can we ‘’get things done’’? This is the unfinished agenda for our second century of federation. But will it be addressed?

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