Dr Ben Saul goes head-to-head with Attorney-General on Human Rights record

30 October 2008



Dr Ben Saul debated federal Attorney-General and alumnus, Robert McClelland (LLM 1999) on the Rudd Government's human rights record one year into office at a NSW Young Lawyers event in Sydney last night.


While Dr Saul conceded the current Federal Government has done well so far in relation to Human Rights, he outlined seven specific areas in which its response and approach could improve:


  1. Death Penalty

  2. Torture

  3. Refugee and Asylum

  4. Indigenous Affairs

  5. Labour Rights

  6. Access to Justice

  7. Anti-Terrorism Law


He also pushed the case for the Government to consider introducing a bill of rights.


"I would urge you not to waste that opportunity by delaying on the question of a bill of rights" Dr Saul said.


"You might also be pleasantly surprised by how warmly a bill of rights might be received in the community; the state and territory consultative processes have shown overwhelming support for bills of rights, while the previous government's intransigence on human rights issues accounts for part of the public's turn against it.


"Nonetheless, If  I were asked to mark this government on its human rights performance to date, I would give it a solid Distinction grade (75% or over): some original thinking, good use of international and comparative sources, but not yet quite up there in the exceptional category of the very best governments around the world," Dr Saul concluded.


Download the speech in full. 

Contact: Greg Sherington

Phone: +61 2 9351 0202

Email: 294a3605771c38511f282d373b243b07220137296d0c170d160e11