Evidence of Absence in the Ruddock Report
Australian Law Journal, Volume 93, Part 9, 2019
6 Pages Posted: 3 Jun 2019
Date Written: May 1, 2019
The recommendations made in the Ruddock Report are rather modest when compared to previous reviews of the state of religious freedom in Australia. The Ruddock Panel rejected widespread calls for a general federal human rights act or a specific law protecting religious freedom. What explains the Panel’s reluctance? This paper argues that the cause was the Panel’s extremely narrow definition of what legitimately constitutes evidence of a problem. The Ruddock Report often supports its recommendations of inaction by stating that submissions arguing for change consistently relied on a handful of high-profile cases, involved incidents overseas, or just didn’t provide numerically-impressive evidence of complaints to existing human rights bodies. In addition, the Ruddock Report failed in viewing rights-protection as purely reactive (solving an existing problem) rather than prophylactic (safeguarding against plausible and significant future threats). By setting such a narrow standard of acceptable evidence and by neglecting the need for foresight, the Ruddock Report did not properly evaluate the important issues it was asked to investigate.
Keywords: Ruddock, Religious Freedom in Australia
JEL Classification: Z12, K1
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation