Queensland’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee has given the thumbs up to the creation of a Human Rights Act. The Committee tabled its report last night and a final vote will take place in the Parliament in the coming months.
Lee Carnie, a Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre, said the creation of a Queensland Human Rights Act will be a win for all Queenslanders, particularly those whose rights are most at risk, including people with disabilities, people facing homelessness, and vulnerable kids.
“Human rights laws are about protecting the values we all hold dear like fairness, equality and respect. It’s wonderful to see the finish line in sight – a vote in Parliament is now all that is needed for Queensland to become the third Australian jurisdiction to take the important step of protecting human rights in its laws,” said Carnie.
The Committee’s report notes the concerns raised by various community groups and organisations, including the Human Rights Law Centre, about the lack of a standalone cause of action – a clear, simple, and accessible way to take action if their rights are breached. However, the Committee formed the view that the legislation “provides a sufficiently effective mechanism to address grievances” – namely, a complaints system administered by the Queensland Human Rights Commission.
The Committee also encouraged the Commission to monitor complaints raised against companies delivering public services, leaving the door open for improvements as part of the 5 year review.
“Queensland’s Human Rights Act will make sure everyone’s rights are protected. It will force politicians and public servants to take into account human rights when writing laws and policies, and make sure public services like schools and hospitals always uphold human rights. This is a huge improvement, but it’s vitally important that when governments violate human rights, you can take action in court,” said Lee Carnie.
Advocates are urging members of the public to show the Premier and Opposition Leader their support for the Human Rights Act.
Lee Carnie said with Victoria, the ACT, and now Queensland embracing charters of human rights, it was time for a conversation about how best to create a national Charter of Human Rights to ensure everyone’s basic rights are properly protected across Australia.
“We know we can’t rely on politicians or corporations to always do the right thing. An Australian Charter of Human Rights will give people and communities the power to hold governments to account. We’re the only western democracy without one and it’s time to fix that,” said Carnie.
You can sign the petition to the Premier and Opposition Leader here calling for them to pass Queensland’s Human Rights Bill as soon as possible.
For more information, please contact:
Tom Clarke, Director of Campaigns at the Human Rights Law Centre on 0422 545 763 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
Image source: Office of the Premier