Queenslanders deserve a Human Rights Act with real teeth

In June Queensland’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee released a report recommending that Queensland introduce a Human Rights Act. However, the Committee’s proposal for how that Act would operate falls well short of what’s required for adequate human rights protection for Queenslanders.

The Human Rights Law Centre’s Director of Advocacy and Research, Emily Howie, welcomed the recommendation, but warned that the government must ensure that a Queensland Human Rights Act delivers real outcomes for individuals.

“It’s fantastic to see the recommendation to introduce a Human Rights Act. But the model recommended is disappointing. Rights are meaningless without the ability to enforce them. If the Queensland Government follows the path recommended yesterday, it will squander this opportunity,” said Ms Howie.

The recommended model for the Human Rights Act would merely involve parliament considering human rights when introducing a new bill. In contrast to human rights legislation in Victoria and the ACT, there would be no obligations on government and no ability for people to seek redress if their rights are violated.

“Government must be required to comply with human rights standards and people must be able to enforce their rights in the courts. Unfortunately, the proposal put by Government MPs barely lifts rights from being an aspiration of the parliament. A model like this would relegate Queensland to sub-standard human rights protection that falls well short of the safeguards guaranteed under all other human rights legislation in Australia and overseas,” said Ms Howie.

“Queensland has an opportunity to lead Australia in protecting and promoting human rights. We urge the government to introduce an improved and strengthened version of the Victorian and ACT human rights legislation. Queenslanders need real and meaningful protection of their rights,” said Ms Howie.

For further comments or queries please contact:

Emily Howie, Director of Advocacy and Research, Human Rights Law Centre, 0421 370 997

Michelle Bennett, Director of Communications, Human Rights Law Centre, 0419 100 519