Some of you might be interested to hear that the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Bill 2010 passed Parliament today. It was introduced into the House of Representatives in September 2010.
If you read Hansard, you will see that the Opposition
tried to move amendments so that 'human rights' was defined as rights in
the Constitution and common law rights. I would interpret this myself
as trying to make sure that certain sorts of humans could protect their
property rights, rather than an interest in human rights as universal
and indivisible and as found in international human rights covenants
that Australia has signed up to, but that is my personal view only and
one not shared by, say, George Brandis.
If you read Hansard you will also find some fairly vitriolic personal attacks, but I guess that's to be expected.
Anyway, the new legislation (once it receives Royal
Assent) means that any new bills or legislative instruments introduced
into Parliament must be accompanied by a statement of compatibility,
which tells Parliament (and the world at large because they will be
publicly available documents) if a bill is consistent with the human
rights obligations under 7 key human rights treaties. Or not. The Bill
also establishes a new parliamentary committee to look at bills and the statements and to have a good think about it all.
I understand that the Opposition also tried to make an amendment
to remove the requirement for statements of compatibility, but perhaps I
am wrong about that.
I am looking forward to seeing what the statements are like, and what the new committee says about them.