Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 comes into effect today

January 4, 2012 |

Today the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 comes into effect.

The press release from the Attorney General provides:

Human rights will be bought into sharper focus in the Parliament this year with all new laws to be checked to see if they stack up against human rights obligations.

“Our focus is on ensuring that key principles of freedom, respect, equality, dignity and a fair go for all Australians are considered in everything the Commonwealth Parliament does,” Attorney-General Nicola Roxon said.

“Ensuring that new laws have considered the protection and promotion of human rights is long overdue.

“Australia has a proud human rights record that will be further strengthened by enshrining the consideration of human rights in the development of our nation’s laws.

“This important step is part of Australia’s Human Rights Framework and will give the community confidence that their human rights are being recognised and respected in everything the Parliament does.”

Australia’s Human Rights Framework was developed following the Government’s National Human Rights Consultation and is a comprehensive package of measures to strengthen understanding and respect for human rights including consolidating Commonwealth anti-discrimination legislation and releasing a new National Human Rights Action Plan.

The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011 comes into effect today and requires all new bills and disallowable legislative instruments to be accompanied by a ‘Statement of compatibility with human rights’. Statements will assess compatibility against the seven main United Nations human rights treaties to which Australia is a party.

The Act also establishes a Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights—the first Commonwealth Parliamentary Committee dedicated solely to human rights scrutiny—which will be established by a resolution of appointment in the Autumn 2012 Parliamentary sittings.

The Australian has briefly reported on the legislation here.

From a practitioners perspective the legislation will have little practical effect on the conduct of litigation. Litigation involving the Charter of Rights in Victoria has had a fairly small.

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