Even though Australia has signed all five international treaties that make up the International Bill of Human Rights, none of these treaties are legally binding in Australia. Nor is there is a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution. This means that the fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone living in Australia are not protected by the law.
The majority of Australians want a bill of rights and they want a say about whether it belongs in the constitution
In 1991-1992 the Research School of Social Sciences at ANU conducted a national survey of 1522 Australians and asked them about their attitude to rights. The report Rights in Australia 1991-1992found that 70.6% of Australians want a Bill of Rights (7.4% were against and 21.8% were undecided). The Survey also found that 85.9% supported a referendum to determine whether a Bill of Rights should be put in the Constitution. The majority of Australians (57.8%) also believe that a Bill of Rights would strengthen our national identity.
Nevertheless, Australia's politicians continue to deny Australians a Bill of Rights to protect our rights and freedoms. Why? Is it simply because a Bill of Rights would be an effective check and balance on their power? That would explain why Prime Minister Howard supports a Bill of Rights for Iraqis, but not for his own people.
CCL supports a human rights act for all Australians
26 May 2004 (Sydney): The New South Wales Council for Civil Liberties expressed its support for an interim statutory Human Rights Act for all Australians. CCL remains committed to a constitutional Bill of Rights, but CCL accepts that in the meantime a strong statutory Human Rights Act would help to protect the rights and freedoms of all Australians.
CCL adopted a new policy document that will be sent to all CCL branches around the country for endorsement.
New Matilda's human rights act
New Matilda is an online opinion magazine that has put together a draft Human Rights Act for all Australians. The Act was launched on 5 October 2005 at Sydney Town Hall. CCL supports this initiative and wishes New Matilda well with their project.
You can read CCL's comments on New Matilda's Bill.
Pm supports a bill of rights...for Iraq
14 April 2004 (Canberra): In a press conference today, the Australian Prime Minister John Howard expressed "very strong support" for a Bill of Rights for Iraq.
In the past, the Prime Minister has stated he does not support Bills of Rights. So NSWCCL applauds Mr Howard's change of heart and his very strong support for Bills of Rights.
CCL encourages the Prime Minister to extend this very strong support for a Bill of Rights for the Iraqi people to the Australian people.
Australia is the only common law country without a Bill of Rights. Recently, the ACT passed Australia's first Bill of Rights: the Human Rights Act 2004(ACT). CCL encourages the Prime Minister to examine the Human Rights Act and to pass a national equivalent.
Australia, like Iraq, deserves a Bill of Rights.