Australian nonprofit the Human Rights Law Centre Tuesday reported that 60 percent of legislation regarding human rights between 2019 and 2021 was passed by the Australian Federal Parliament with no review by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights.
The Committee was created in 2012 “to examine all bills and legislative instruments for compatibility with human rights, and to report to both Houses of Parliament on its findings.” However, according to the report, “43 out of 72 pieces of legislation passed in the 2019 – 2022 parliamentary term before human rights scrutiny could be completed.” Legislation passed during this period gives increased power to the Foreign Affairs Minister to authorise the use of force and weapons by Australian Secret Intelligence Service officers outside of Australia and, according to the Centre, disproportionately affects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. According to the Centre, these bills should have faced proper scrutiny to “prevent bad decisions from being made in the first place, or marginalised people being forgotten in the policy development process.”
Australia currently does not have a unified documents containing all protected human rights. Instead, the nation protects human rights through a combination of the Constitution, common law and state and federal legislation. The report recommends that Australia creates a Federal Charter of Human Rights “to strengthen and complement the scrutiny regime.”