Queensland moves closer to new human rights act
Advocacy groups have praised moves to introduce a bill of human rights in Queensland, but the state opposition has labelled the issue a distraction.
Should it pass, the bill will enshrine 23 entitlements in law including the right to life, the right to privacy and protection from degrading treatment.
Unlike other countries such as the United States, Australia has no national law that guarantees rights for citizens.
Queensland Council of Social Services CEO, Mark Henley, said the bill would lead to a “fairer Queensland”.
“A human rights act not only aligns Queensland with signed international human rights treaties but ensures human rights complaints can be heard and determined within Queensland,” Henley said.
A new Queensland Human Rights Commission would be created out of the old anti-discrimination commission and become the first port of call for people who believe their rights have been breached.
Dan Rogers from the Caxton Legal Centre said the bill would protect all Queenslanders, not just the vulnerable.
“It will enable better laws to be made at the outset, it will ensure better delivery of government services and also ensure our courts make decisions which are compatible with human rights,” he said.
Opposition Leader, Deb Frecklington, said Queenslanders’ rights are already protected through existing laws and the issue is a “distraction”.
“The people I speak to on a day-to-day basis are worried about things like how they’ll pay their electricity bills or how they’re going to get to work on time,” Frecklington said.
The changes will be debated and voted on in the first half of next year and are expected to pass.
The bill will then be implemented in two stages, with the rebranding of the anti-discrimination commission in mid-2019 and most of the rest of the changes to take full effect from 2020.