Commonwealth human rights consultation

10 December 2008

THE President of Liberty Victoria, Michael Pearce SC, today welcomed the announcement by the Commonwealth Attorney-General, Mr McClelland, of a consultation on the protection of human rights in Australia.

“This inquiry is an opportunity for all Australians to take part in a national conversation about how human rights should be protected in this country”, Mr Pearce said.

“Liberty Victoria has for many years been concerned about deficits in the protection afforded to many different groups and individuals in Australia. The rights of the indigenous, the elderly, of children, of lesbians, gay men and transsexual people, of people with mental illness, of those in poverty have been of continuing concern.

“This is quite apart from the more high profile problems of maintaining individual privacy in a surveillance society, protecting freedom of information, underpinning freedom of expression, negating racial discrimination and preserving diversity in a multi-ethnic society.”

“It is particularly appropriate that this inquiry should be announced on the 60th Anniversary of the adoption of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights on 10 December 1948,” Mr Pearce remarked.

“It was on that day that the modern human rights movement began. It is a movement that has changed the currency of political discussion around the globe. People in every country in the world now aspire to enjoy the fundamental rights and freedoms set down in the Declaration.

“In that context, it is notable that Australia is the only country in the Western world that does not have any comprehensive human rights protection.”

Liberty hopes that the adoption of a charter of rights or a Human Rights Act at the Commonwealth level will be one of the principal recommendations to emerge from the human rights consultation that will now take place.