Exile on Main Street: Australia’s Legislative Agenda for Human Rights

European Human Rights Law Review, Issue 1, pp. 58-70, 2012

Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/60

14 Pages Posted: 23 Sep 2011 Last revised: 3 May 2012

David Kinley

The University of Sydney Law School

Christine Ernst

The University of Sydney Law School

Date Written: September 21, 2011

Abstract

Somewhat notoriously, Australia remains the sole Western state to have no national bill of rights on its statute books. Following a national inquiry into the matter in 2010, the federal government declined to introduce a bill of rights. It did, however, introduce draft legislation which, although not a bill of rights, has the potential to make a significant impact in the human rights sphere. The draft legislation – the Human Rights Parliamentary Scrutiny Bill 2010 – was very recently passed by the Commonwealth Parliament. The new legislation will establish a parliamentary human rights scrutiny committee which will look to Australia’s international human rights obligations as the standards against which to measure draft legislation introduced into the Commonwealth Parliament. The legislation will also require that all new pieces of legislation be accompanied by a statement declaring whether they are compatible with human rights. This article assesses the likely impact of the initiative. It considers the advantages, drawbacks, possibilities and surprises the legislation presents for the future protection of human rights in Australia, and asks whether Australia remains in exile, or is starting to come in from the cold.

Keywords: Human Rights, International Human Rights Law, Bills of Rights, Parliamentary Scrutiny, Australia

JEL Classification: K10, K30, K33

Suggested Citation

Kinley, David and Ernst, Christine, Exile on Main Street: Australia’s Legislative Agenda for Human Rights (September 21, 2011). European Human Rights Law Review, Issue 1, pp. 58-70, 2012; Sydney Law School Research Paper No. 11/60. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1931915

David Kinley (Contact Author)

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

Christine Ernst

The University of Sydney Law School ( email )

New Law Building, F10
The University of Sydney
Sydney, NSW 2006
Australia

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