How close is Australia to having Human Rights Acts nationwide? Here’s a rundown by CLA President Dr Kristine Klugman. Her status report comes just as the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights is about to recommend a new federal framework for Australia’s national human rights regime. But all states and territories have active groups working to improve citizens’ access to a fair go in their own bailiwick.
Is the ‘notorious nation’ set to finally do the right thing, and protect its citizens with a Human Rights Act? Journalist Paul Gregoire examines the current situation and 2024-25 prospects for a ‘bill of rights’ that includes accessible, consistent and clear remedies for any breaches by bureaucrats.
An amended Human Rights Act for the Australian Capital Territory, tabled in September 2023, contains nation-leading clauses to ensure ’No Rights Without Remedy’ can become a model for a possible federal Human Rights Act in future. Celebrating the 20th anniversary of Australia’s first HR Act, the nation’s first Human Rights Minister, Tara Cheyne, has introduced changes in the ACT so that citizens from 2024 can seek formal conciliation if there is an alleged breach of their rights by the bureaucracy, which has a positive duty whenever possible to act consistently with human rights. She also praised CLA and Chris Stamford for our work in helping to make positive change happen,
CLA’s submission calling for a Human Rights Act for Australia, including ensuring there are ‘No Rights Without Remedy’, has been published on the parliament website (Sub No 51). The 31-page, easy-read submission has met with widespread praise for its comprehensiveness and how it marries the need for a national ethical infrastructure, ensures a fair go for both poor and rich, and also melds with the wellbeing Budget principle of delivering long-term improvement in the lives of citizens.
How is Australia improving – or otherwise – as a nation and a society? Are we becoming a fairer, more equal place to live, concentrating on what produces better outcomes for people? Is our traditional narrow focus on GDP doing us a disservice as a people? CLA’s HR Campaign Manager Chris Stamford examines new ways of measuring progress.
Jurisdictions throughout Australia are hell-bent on banning symbols they don’t like, when it is way the symbol or sign is used rather than the image itself that is the problem. CLA made this point in a submission to a parliamentary process in the ACT, pointing out that there are thousands of signs, symbols, gestures, chants that could – and do, at times – give offence when misused.
‘Human rights’ is a simple concept: the rights let you do what you reasonably want to do…without preventing someone else doing what they want to do. But they can get bound up in formal ‘legalese’. Here, CLA explains our understanding of what ‘human rights’ means as applied to Australia, and why we should have a national, or federal, Human Rights Act or bill of rights like NZ, Canada, the UK and the USA.
Recent revelations of secret recordings of lawyers and their clients at Risdon Prison by Tasmanian Police over two months raised major alarm bells. The Commonwealth Ombudsman has been consistently calling out TasPol for its recording devices and surveillance warrant failures for years. TasPol's “compliance culture” is lacking, the Ombudsman says. In other words, TasPol does not obey the law. SPECIAL ANALYSIS reveals how extensive the TasPol problem is: nothing less than a full inquiry into TasPol will get to the root causes of its problems.
Police can self-authorise some warrants, or get a magistrate or judge to issue others. But whatever method is mandated, warrants are frequently incorrectly issued in Australia on false, dodgy or incomplete information containing wrong details and not meeting legal requirements, or by unauthorised people. The Commonwealth monitors warrant processes, and its Ombudsman has singled out one state in particular, Tasmania, for compliance and culture criticism over the past few years