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Human Rights Commission
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3^ 5.

Its function was to review and. make

recommendations on works of literary or artistic merit

referred to it by Commonwealth or State Ministers

responsible for censorship.

The decision not to re-appoint the Board was

reached in consultation with State Ministers. It was

agreed that there was no longer a role for the Board as

provided for in the 1968 Agreement.

Mr Ellicott commended the Board for the

valuable work it had done over the last eight years.

Canberra

30 December 1976

89/76

HUMAN » « RIGHTS » « COMMISSION »

The Attorney-General, Mr R.J. Ellicott, Q.C.,

announced today that the Commonwealth Government had decided

to establish a « Human » « Rights » « Commission » . . '

The Attorney-General said that citizens who felt

they had been discriminated against under specific

Commonwealth laws such as laws relating to discrimination on

grounds of race or sex (but excluding laws in the employment

area) would be able to have their complaints examined by the

new « Human » « Rights » « Commission » . Complaints regarding

discrimination in employment and occupation would continue to

be handled by the National and State Committees on

Discrimination in Employment and Occupation.

346 .

The Commission would examine Commonwealth,

State and Territory laws and practices and report on

their consistency with the United Nations International

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. It would also

co-ordinate educational and promotional activities with ,

respect to discrimination and human rights. -

The Attorney-General said that the « Human » « Rights »

« Commission » would provide orderly and systematic procedures

for the promotion of human rights and for ensuring that

Australian laws were maintained in conformity with the

International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.

Citizens would be able to bring to the « Human » « Rights »

« Commission » complaints that a law or practice was inconsistent

with the principles of the International Covenant.

The establishment of the « Human » « Rights » « Commission »

would enable existing procedures to be rationalized and

Commonwealth and State activities to be co-ordinated.

Duplication would be avoided and existing resources would be

utilized to the maximum advantage of the Australian community

■ The Attorney-General said that the Government was

most anxious that the Commission should be developed in full

consultation with the States. The Government had written to

the Premiers proposing that discussions should be held on the

desirability of achieving uniformity of approach in anti­

discrimination laws and practices and co-ordination of

activity. The Attorney-General pointed out that a number of

State and Commonwealth laws had been introduced in this field

resulting in overlap, duplication and inconsistency of

approach. '

The Attorney-General said that he anticipated that

the proposed discussions with the States would deal, with such

matters as legislation relating to discrimination on grounds

of sex, the Employment Discrimination Committees and

347 .

procedures to keep under examination the consistency of

Australian laws and practices with the International

Covenant on Civil and Political Rights-.

The Attorney-General said that the arrangements

he had outlined would provide a much more effective means

of implementing basic human rights than the Human Rights

Bill that had been introduced by the previous Government.

He expected that the « Human » « Rights » « Commission » would be

established by 1 July 1977.

The Attorney-General also announced that the

Acting President of the Conciliation and Arbitration

Commission, Mr Justice Robinson, had agreed to make the

services of Mr Justice Staples, Deputy President of that

Commission, available for the purpose of considering and

reporting on the practices, procedures and laws of other

countries that were used for the protection of basic human

rights. He said that Mr Justice Staples had had a long­

standing interest in human rights and he felt that His

Honour’s report would be of considerable assistance to the

« Human » « Rights » « Commission » in the course of its work. He

said that Mr Justice Staples would commence his work on this

study early in the new.year.

■«

Canberra

26 December 1976

90/76