The Protection of Human Rights in NSW Through the Parliamentary Process - A Review of the Recent Performance of the NSW Parliament’s Legislation Review Committee
14 Pages Posted: 31 Oct 2009
Date Written: October 25, 2009
The NSW Parliament's Legislation Review Committee was established on the recommendation of a Parliamentary inquiry into the desirability of a bill of rights for New South Wales. While the inquiry found that Parliament had not always fully observed human rights standards, it saw improved legislative scrutiny of bills as a more appropriate response than the enactment of a bill of rights. This paper examines a number of aspects of the Committee’s recent work in order to ascertain whether under its traditional common law scrutiny mandate the Committee consistently examines draft legislation in the light of the international human rights norms by which Australia is bound. It concludes that the Committee does reasonably well in identifying classical civil liberties concerns, though it tends not to apply a rigorous human rights analysis to these rights. On the other hand, notwithstanding its broad interpretation of its mandate, the Committee has done less well in relation to the identification and analysis of other rights, in particular economic, social and cultural rights. The paper argues that even with enhanced parliamentary scrutiny, the adoption of a bill of rights would make a difference, as it would provide a clear and comprehensive set of standards and a framework for full human rights analysis, while the prospect of even limited judicial review would focus the minds of policymakers and legislators on human rights issues in the legislative process.
Keywords: Human rights, Bills of rights, Legislatures, Parliamentary scrutiny
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