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Thomas ruling highlights need for Bill of Rights.



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DEMOCRATS MEDIA FRIDAY AUGUST 3, 2007

SENATOR NATASHA STOTT DESPOJA AUSTRALIAN DEMOCRATS ATTORNEY-GENERAL’S SPOKESPERSON

THOMAS RULING HIGHLIGHTS NEED FOR BILL OF RIGHTS

The Australian Democrats say that the High Court ruling in the 'Jihad' Jack Thomas case highlights the need for an Australian Bill of Rights.

The ruling, which condoned the imposition of a restrictive control order on Thomas after he was cleared of terror charges by the Victorian Supreme Court of Appeal, found that the government's anti-terror laws were supported by the defence power in the constitution.

"In the climate of fear which the government seeks to perpetuate to justify its draconian terror laws, it is clear that the only thing that will provide Australians with robust protection of their fundamental civil liberties is a Bill of Rights,"

Democrats' Attorney General’s Spokesperson Senator Natasha Stott Despoja said.

"The Democrats have long campaigned for a federal Bill of Rights, but the federal government has been trumped by the states who continue to take the lead on such issues. With the government so intent on the harmonisation of

our national laws, surely it is time that some serious consideration was given to a federal Bill of Rights?

"In the very least, in the lead up to the election the government and opposition should both commit to holding a genuine public consultation and inquiry into the need for a Bill of Rights.

"As the only democracy in the western world without a Bill of Rights, Australia is fast becoming a laughing stock in the eyes of the rest of the world on this topic. Preventative detention orders can be challenged in the US, UK and Canada, because all of those jurisdictions have charters or human rights acts. The Haneef debacle and Thomas ruling should reignite this debate in Australia,” Senator Stott Despoja said.

In 2005, Senator Stott Despoja re-introduced the Parliamentary Charter of Rights and Freedoms Bill (2001) which aimed to entrench a Bill of Rights in Australia.

Media contact: Raina Hunter - 0417 085 260