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Part 3—Functions of the Australian Human Rights Commission

Part 3 Functions of the Australian Human Rights Commission

   

13   Additional powers and functions of the Commission

                   In addition to the powers and functions of the Commission under the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 , the Commission has the following powers and functions:

                     (a)  to inquire into any act or practice that may infringe a right or freedom set out in the Bill of Rights, and

                              (i)  where the Commission considers it appropriate to do so—to endeavour, by conciliation, to effect a settlement of the matters that gave rise to the inquiry; and

                             (ii)  where the Commission is of the opinion that the act or practice infringes a right or freedom set out in the Bill of Rights, and the Commission has not considered it appropriate to endeavour to effect a settlement of the matters that gave rise to the inquiry or has endeavoured without success to effect such a settlement—to report to the Minister in relation to the inquiry;

                     (b)  to promote an understanding and acceptance in Australia of the rights and freedoms set out in the Bill of Rights and of the objects of this Act, and to promote the protection of those rights and freedoms in Australia;

                     (c)  to undertake research and educational programs and other programs, on behalf of the Commonwealth, for the purpose of promoting the rights and freedoms set out in the Bill of Rights and the objects of this Act;

                     (d)  to examine enactments and, when requested by the Minister, proposed enactments for the purpose of ascertaining whether the enactments or proposed enactments are, or would be, inconsistent with the Bill of Rights, and to report to the Minister the results of any such examination;

                     (e)  on its own initiative or when requested by the Minister, to report to the Minister as to the enactments that should be made by the Parliament, or action that should be taken by the Commonwealth, on matters relating to the rights and freedoms set out in the Bill of Rights; and

                      (f)  to do anything incidental or conducive to the performance of any of the preceding functions.

14   Performance of the Commission in relation to Bill of Rights

             (1)  Subject to subsection (2), the powers and duties of the Commission set out in Division 2 of Part II of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 are extended to apply also to rights and freedoms set out in the Bill of Rights.

             (2)  Before inquiring, under this Act, into an act or practice, the Commission must tell the responsible Minister that the Commission proposes to inquire into the act or practice.

15   Complaints and redress for infringement of rights or freedoms

             (1)  A written complaint may be lodged with the Commission, alleging that an act or practice infringes a right or freedom set out in the Bill of Rights.

             (2)  After a complaint is lodged with the Commission, a complainant, a respondent, an affected person or the Commission may apply for an interim injunction to the Federal Court or the Federal Circuit Court. The Courts may grant an interim injunction to maintain the status quo or maintain the rights of any complainant, respondent or affected person.

             (3)  Except as provided by this Part, Part IIB of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 applies in relation to a complaint under subsection (1) to the extent necessary to enable the complaint to be dealt with as applicable, through:

                     (a)  conciliation by the President; and

                     (b)  proceedings in the Federal Court and the Federal Circuit Court.

             (4)  For the purposes of subsection (2), reference to unlawful discrimination in Part IIB of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 is read as including an act or practice that infringes a right or freedom set out in the Bill of Rights.

16   Reporting to Parliament

             (1)  The Minister must cause a copy of every report given to the Minister by the Commission under paragraphs 13(a), (d) or (e) to be laid before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days of that House after the report is received by the Minister.

             (2)  Where the Commission gives to the Minister under paragraph 13(a), (d) or (e) a report that relates to:

                     (a)  a State enactment, or proposed State enactment; or

                     (b)  an act done or practice engaged in:

                              (i)  by or on behalf of a State; or

                             (ii)  by or on behalf of an authority of a State;

the Minister must immediately give a copy of the report to the Attorney-General of that State.

             (3)  The Minister:

                     (a)  must not cause a copy of a report of the kind referred to in subsection (2) to be laid before either House of the Parliament until:

                              (i)  the expiration of 30 days after a copy of the report was given to the Attorney-General of the State concerned under subsection (2); or

                             (ii)  the Minister receives from the Attorney-General of the State concerned a statement relating to the enactment, act or practice to which the report related, whichever happens first; and

                     (b)  must cause a copy of the report to be laid before each House of the Parliament within 15 sitting days after the happening of the first of the events referred to in subparagraphs (a) (i) and (ii); and

                     (c)  if the event referred to in subparagraph (a) (ii) is the first to happen, or if, before the report is laid before either House of the Parliament pursuant to paragraph (b), the Minister receives from the Attorney-General concerned a statement of the kind referred to in subparagraph (a) (ii)—must cause a copy of the statement to be attached to each copy of the report that is laid before a House of the Parliament pursuant to paragraph (b).