Queensland Government introduces Human Rights Act to Parliament

Queensland Government introduces Human Rights Act to Parliament

The Palaszczuk Government has today tabled in Parliament its long-awaited human rights legislation to protect fundamental rights for all Queenslanders like the right to education, privacy, freedom of speech and the protection of children.

The Executive Director of the Human Rights Law Centre, Hugh de Kretser, said the Human Rights Act will ensure the human rights of Queenslanders are better protected in law and will give people power to hold government to account.

“This is a big step forward for human rights in Queensland and in Australia. Human rights are about things like ensuring all kids get a good education whether their parents are rich or poor, stopping people from being evicted into homelessness and making sure government doesn’t unfairly intrude on our private lives,” said Mr de Kretser.

Community groups in Queensland have been pushing for a Human Rights Act for a number of years and the Palasczcuk Government committed to introducing one in 2016.

“This is a win for all Queenslanders but particularly those whose rights are most at risk, including people with disabilities, people facing homelessness, vulnerable kids and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. This reform will help to build a society more grounded in the values we hold dear like fairness, respect, compassion and equality,” said Mr de Kretser.

Related: Welcome to the campaign for an Australian Charter of Human Rights

Under the proposed laws which are modeled on Victoria’s Human Rights Charter, Queenslanders whose human rights are violated will be able to complain to the renamed Queensland Human Rights Commission and take legal action in a court in some circumstances. However, there is no right to compensation for a breach of human rights.

“Most of the work of human rights laws is done behind the scenes in government and parliament to prevent breaches of rights from occurring. But it’s important when governments do violate human rights that people affected can take legal action in court. We’ll be raising ways to make this process simpler and more accessible and pushing for compensation to be made available as a remedy in appropriate cases,” said Mr de Kretser.

Other areas identified for improvement are clauses relating to youth justice and prisons and the need to clarify when non-government bodies are covered by the laws.

“The whole idea of human rights is that they are for everyone and politicians shouldn’t be able to create exceptions when it’s convenient for them,” said Mr de Kretser.

“We’re looking forward helping to see the passage of this landmark legislation through the Parliament,” said Mr de Kretser.

For further media comments, please contact:
Tom Clarke, Human Rights Law Centre Director of Campaigns, on 0422 545 763 or tom.clarke@hrlc.org.au