Task Type: Mini Essays
UN- United Nations
ICCPR- International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
UDHR- Universal Declaration of Human Rights
NGO- Non-Governmental Organisations
UNICEF- United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund
Discuss the arguments for and against a charter of rights for Australia
There are many arguments for and against a charter of rights for Australia; many of these arguments for a charter of rights include that it would improve the quality and accountability of government, that it could generate economic benefits, and that it would contribute to a culture of respect for human rights. Arguments against a Charter of Human rights are that it could undermine the tradition of parliamentary sovereignty possibly causing a transfer of authority, it could be an excessive and costly litigation, and that it could potentially lead to negative outcomes for human rights.
It is commonly argued that a statutory Charter of Human Rights would expressly recognise rights not currently recognised by Australian law, and therefore also, help in promoting a stronger culture of respect for human rights, improve government policy-making and administrative decision-making from a human rights perspective, would bring Australia into line with every other liberal democracy and potentially allow Australian courts to play a broader role in protecting human rights under Australian law. Whether this is desirable or not is a source of great argument. It will also help to better meet the obligations Australia has undertaken, under international law to protect human rights standards. On another note many people think that it could potentially lead to negative outcomes for human rights and may mean that there is no better human rights protection guaranteed.
There are many common arguments against a Charter of Human Rights. Sadly, Australians cannot claim that their parliamentary system works so perfectly that it does not occasionally need the stimulus of reminders that the law sometimes treats people (usually minorities) unjustly and unequally, therefore many people think that a Charter of rights may “penalise” those who are in most need of human rights.
Many people argue that a Charter of Rights would improve the quality and accountability of government, but on the other hand others agree that it would be undermining a tradition of parliamentary sovereignty, including transferring legislative power to unelected judges.
Some suggest that a Charter of Human Rights would be unnecessary, given the existing common law and statutory protections of rights in Australia.
There is extremely high community support for a Charter of Rights in Australia. People believe that a Charter of Rights will bring Australia into line with other democracies such as Canada and New Zealand, and will contribute to a culture of respect for human rights. Whilst some commentators suggest that a Charter will be impossible in Australia because I would involve the judiciary in giving advisory options.
“Criminals and suspected criminals are most likely to make claims regarding the right to a fair trial or procedural rights concerning arrest and detention, rights that judges are already familiar with. They may also make claims about their right to humane treatment in custody”. Says Sarah Joseph in her article ‘Stance on human rights has everything - except a charter’. In this article Sarah Joseph states that she is against a Carter of rights and feels it unnecessary for Australia.
Many other countries have enacted similar bills of rights by statute; Canada introduced the Canadian Bill of rights in 1960. New Zealand introduced a Bill of Rights in 1993, and the UK enacted the Human Rights Act 1998 (UK).
In 2008, on the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the Federal Attorney- General Robert McClelland announced an inquiry,