On 21 April 2010, the Attorney-General launched the Federal Government’s response to the National Human Rights Consultation, entitled ‘Australia’s Human Rights Framework. The Government’s Framework fails to implement the key recommendation of the National Human Rights Consultation Report – supported by over 87% of a record 35,000 submissions – that Australia enact a federal Human Rights Act.
The Government’s Human Rights Framework does, however, contain a number of significant commitments to strengthen the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia:
- establishing a new Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights to provide greater scrutiny of legislation for compliance with Australia’s international human rights obligations;
- requiring that each new Bill introduced into Federal Parliament is accompanied by a Statement of Compatibility with Australia’s international human rights obligations;
- reviewing legislation, policies and practice for compliance with the seven core international human rights treaties to which Australia is party;
- investing over $12 million over four years in various education initiatives to promote a greater understanding of human rights across the community;
- developing a new National Action Plan on Human Rights to ‘outline future action for the promotion and protection of human rights’;
- consolidating and harmonising federal anti-discrimination laws into a single Act; and
- creating a ‘Human Rights Forum’ to enable whole-of-government engagement with non-government organisations on annual basis.
The Government has committed to review the Framework in 2014 to ‘assess its effectiveness in the promotion and protection of human rights in Australia’.
An HRLRC opinion piece on the new Framework, published on ABC Online, is available at www.abc.net.au/unleashed/stories/s2879605.htm.