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Thursday, 28 February 1985
Page: 333

Senator PARER —I direct my question to the Minister representing the Attorney-General. Is the proposed Bill of Rights, now released under the Freedom of Information Act, still under consideration, or has it been abandoned by the Government?

Senator GARETH EVANS —That is a good question, Senator. The Government is committed, as we all know, to the protection of basic human rights and civil liberties of all Australians. That commitment includes ensuring that Australia meets its obligations under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, particularly since we removed, as one of our last acts last year, the reservations and declarations attached, very unhappily, to that covenant by our predecessor administration.

The questions involved in a Bill of Rights raise many issues which are under consideration by the Government. The Government is committed to strengthening the Human Rights Commission, including its role in the protection of those rights and liberties which are guaranteed by the International Covenant. The Commonwealth is also committed to wide consultation with government and community organisations on its human rights initiative.

The text of a Bill of Rights, which was circulated to State governments and some other organisations last year, was a working draft to which detailed consideration, in light of the reaction to it, has not yet been given. I remind the honourable senator-I am not sure whether he mentioned it in his question-that the text of that has now been formally released under freedom of information legislation by the present Attorney-General-

Senator Missen —Why not to us? Why not to us as senators? Why don't we get it?

Senator GARETH EVANS —The honourable senator may ask for it nicely and I am sure that we will respond in kind.