The Tasmanian Government’s decision to shelve the introduction of a Charter of Human Rights because of budgetary constraints is misconceived and fails to understand the substantial economic and social benefits of human rights protections, according to a leading human rights organisation. The Human Rights Law Centre’s Ben Schokman said a Charter of Human Rights is a cost-effective way to promote human rights and would have significant social and economic benefits.
“Human rights are not optional extras. Experience in other jurisdictions such as Victoria and the ACT demonstrates that human rights protections in fact provide substantial economic and social benefits with minimal implementation costs,” said Mr Schokman.
Tasmanian Attorney-General Brian Wightman has said that work has stalled on establishing a Charter of Human Rights and associated Human Rights Commission because Tasmania can't afford it. However, other important legislation would still go ahead this year in Tasmania despite budget cuts.
“Human rights violations have both human and economic costs. Investing in the protection of rights for all Tasmanians is crucial and is even more important during times of austerity. Tough economic times mean that individuals are more likely to have their human rights infringed,” explained Mr Schokman.
In its first four years of operation, the Victorian Charter of Human Rights cost only 50 cents per Victorian per year.
“Over the last four years Victorians have enjoyed improved human rights protections for less than the price of a cup of coffee. That’s a bargain.
“A Charter of Human Rights is a practical and cost effective way to protect and promote human rights. If potential violations of human rights laws can be weeded out during the early stages when laws and policies are being developed, then costly challenges and the need for changes are much less likely to be an issue further down the track.
“The Tasmanian Government must adopt the key recommendations of the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute and expedite the introduction of a Charter of Human Rights for the benefit of all Tasmanians” said Mr Schokman.
For further comments, please contact Ben Schokman on 0403 622 810 or firstname.lastname@example.org