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Enhancing Parliamentary scrutiny of human rights.



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ATTORNEY-GENERAL HON ROBERT McCLELLAND MP

MEDIA RELEASE

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600  Telephone (02) 6277 7300  Fax (02) 6273 4102 www.attorneygeneral.gov.au

2 June 2010

ENHANC ING PARLIAMENTARY SCRUTINY OF HUMAN RIGHTS

Attorney -General, Robert McClelland, today introduced legislation as part of Australia’s Human Rights Framework to enhance parliamentary scrutiny of laws for consistency with our internationa l human rights obligations.

The Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 establishes a new Joint Parliamentary Committee on Human Rights to examine and report to Parliament on the compatibility of legislation with Australia’s international human ri ghts obligations.

These obligations are contained in the seven core international human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, including:

• The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights; • The International Covenant On Econom ic, Social and Cultural Rights; • The Convention for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial D iscrimination; • The Convention for the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women; • The Convention against Torture and Cruel and I nhumane and Unusual Punishment; • The Convent ion on the Rights of the Child; and • The Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

The Committee will have representation from both Houses of Parliament and will have the power to initiate inquiries into Bills, existing Acts and delegated legislatio n as well as conduct broader human rights inquiries. It will also be empowered to conduct public hearings when the Committee believes it would benefit from submissions from the public or particular expertise.

“This will be the first Parliamentary Committe e, at a f ederal level , dedicated to human rights scrut iny ,” Mr McClelland said.

The Bill also introduces a requirement that each new Bill introduced into Parliament is accompanied by a Statement of Compatibility with our intern ational human rights obligations.

“T he Statements will assist in explain ing the purpose and intent of legislation, to contextualise human rights considerations, and where appropriate, justify restrictions or limitations on rights in the interests of othe r individuals or society more generally. ”

In addition, the Bill also introduces a mendments to appoint the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission as an ex officio member of the Administrative Review Council.

Attorney General News Release 2

“These measures are about ensuring that the business of Government , as a matter of practice , has regard to how legislation impacts on the rights of ordinary citizens. ”

The introd uction of the Bill implements a key part of Australia’s Human R ights Framework which aims to enhanc e the under standing of, and respect for , human rights in Australia.

The Human Rights Framework is available at www.ag.gov.au/humanrightsframework .

Media Contact: Adam Siddique 0407 473 630