Calls for Australia to implement Federal Human Rights Bill

Former High Court of Australia justice Michael Kirby has called for a national bill of human rights to protect minorities, including women, migrants, LGBTQIA+ persons and indigenous Australians. The move would follow in the footsteps of Victoria, Queensland and the ACT who have all introduced human rights bills.

"The proposal in Australia is to have a model based on the New Zealand and the United Kingdom law that permits the bringing of proceedings before the courts that will help to draw attention, but leave the last word to parliament,” he said

Many human rights groups have backed Mr. Kirby, highlighting that introducing a federal bill would have positive impacts on minority groups in Australia. Victorian Pride Centre representative Jude Munro said that a bill such as this may have altered the discourse surrounding same sex marriage debate, and would have “framed things in a very positive light that we are all equal under the law.” Other groups have also emphasised that the symbolism of a law such as this is incredibly powerful, demonstrating that the rights of all Australian persons are taken seriously.

Opponents to the law have stressed that a federal human rights bill would shift power to the courts and away from the parliament. Mr. Kirby addressed this, stating that “we’ve had a lot of wrongs to repair and looking only to parliament to repair them is not always a very effective way of dealing with the problem”.

Sonja DuncanComment