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Greens push Govt for progress on human rights in law.

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Sarah Hanson-Young Greens Senator for South Australia

  Monday 20 October 2008

Greens push Govt for progress on human rights in law

Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young says the Rudd Government must advance action on its Budget pledge to protect human rights in Australian law, and ensure that all options to do so are fairly considered.

The May Budget allocated $2.8 million over two years for community consultation in order to determine how best to recognise and protect human rights in Australia.

“Again from the Rudd Government we have seen all talk, and no action,” said Senator Hanson-Young at the Legal and Constitutional Affairs Estimates hearing today.

“$2.8 million has been pledged in funding, but it is clear from what the Attorney-General’s Department said today that the Government would rather dodge questions as to what the process for this ‘broad-based community consultation’ will be, or its

terms of reference.

“No consultants have yet been contracted, and no human rights experts have been formally engaged to date.

“While we have been regaled with promises, enshrining human rights in Australian law is not sounding like much of a priority for the Government. In fact, it’s all sounding a bit hollow.”

Senator Hanson-Young expressed concern over the Government’s assertion that outcomes of the consultation process would not be presupposed, given that Labor has categorically ruled out enshrining a Bill of Rights in Australia’s Constitution.

“This pre-determined consultation does not look promising,” she said.

“It’s hard to believe that the Government would seriously consider options that do not fit within Labor policy.

“This $2.8 million promise is shaping up to be a cheap veneer being glossed over the noble cause of prioritising human rights.”

Senator Hanson-Young said the Greens would keep a close eye on the Government’s progress on human rights consultation.

“The Greens will continue to keep tabs on the Government’s timeframes and delivery of details on this supposed Budget priority,” she said.

“It is nothing less than human rights that we are talking about here, after all.”

Contact: Gemma Clark on 0427 604 760