Australia is on the cusp of embarking on human rights reform. The reform process began with the National Human Rights Consultation (‘NHRC’), which was announced by the Commonwealth Attorney-General on 10 December 2008, the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Right. Undertaken by an independent committee chaired by Father Frank Brennan (‘NHRCC’), the NHRC was a public inquiry that emphasised community involvement. The NHRCC’s Report, released on 8 October 2009, contains recommendations on how better to protect and promote human rights in Australia. Throughout the NHRC, the most hotly debated question was whether Australia should introduce a national Human Rights Act (‘HRA’). This article addresses the relationship between the Report’s proposal for a HRA, and a second set of ‘parallel’ recommendations. The second set of recommendations, when taken together, would amend existing laws in such a way as to introduce many key features of the Report’s proposed HRA, but outside the rubric of a HRA. Part II of this article considers briefly why the NHRCC took this unusual approach of proposing a second set of recommendations that would appear to be superfluous in the event that a HRA is introduced. Given that a HRA is unlikely to be introduced in the short term, but other human rights reform seems more palatable, the remaining Parts consider the four key features of the dialogue model, comparing and contrasting how those features would operate if introduced independently of a HRA.
Human Rights Law
Date of this Version
Edward Santow, "The Act that Dares not Speak its Name: The National Human Rights Consultation Report’s Parallel Roads to Human Rights Reform" (July 2010). University of New South Wales Faculty of Law Research Series 2010. Working Paper 24.