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Majority support the introduction of a law to protect human rights in Australia.

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Majority support the introduction of a law to protect human rights in Australia

12 March 2009, 01:50PM

A new opinion poll commissioned by Amnesty International, has found that 81 percent of people surveyed would support the introduction of a law to protect human rights in Australia.

The Nielsen survey results also show that 85 percent of those who support the introduction of human rights legislation believe its introduction should be a high or very high priority for the Australian Government.

"The poll results demonstrate there is an extremely high level of support for the introduction of a new law to provide fundamental protection of human rights in this country," said Andrew Beswick, Campaigns Manager at Amnesty International Australia.

Amnesty International has been campaigning alongside a coalition of other groups for the introduction of a Human Rights Act in order to safeguard peoples' rights and freedoms in Australia.

The opinion poll shows that while support for such a law is high, 84 percent of respondents believe their human rights are sufficiently protected at present in Australia.

However, when asked to what extent their human rights are protected under Australian federal law, only 38 percent of respondents say their rights are protected completely. The survey shows that 54 percent believe their rights are only partially protected, and two percent feel their rights are not protected at all.

"While the survey shows that a majority of Australians feel reasonably confident that their rights are protected, they clearly realise that the protection is fragile or incomplete, and should be enhanced through the introduction of a Human Rights Act," said Andrew Beswick. "Having only some of our rights protected, or insufficiently protected, is not good enough."

The Federal Government is currently carrying out an extensive public consultation on how people living in Australia want their human rights protected.

"Amnesty International believes a Human Rights Act that would guarantee national, uniform legal protection of the human rights of everyone living in Australia is the best way forward at this time," said Andrew Beswick.

"We are the only liberal democracy without such overarching legal protection of human rights. And as our mandatory detention policies and anti-terrorism laws show, this lack of human rights protection puts us in a vulnerable position. If human rights aren't formally protected, they’re at real risk of being eroded," said Andrew Beswick.

The Nielsen telephone survey was conducted nationally for Amnesty International Australia from 18 to 25 February 2009 with 1,000 respondents aged 18 and over. The maximum margin of error for this survey is plus or minus approximately 3 percent.