News

Might a right, but let's not bill the rest



9 December 2008

 

If Australia is on the path to a bill of rights, let's have a genuine consultation process, writes Professor Helen Irving in an opinion piece in today's Sydney Morning Herald. 

Writing to coincide with the 60th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations and the Federal Government's intended nationwide consultative process on adopting a bill of rights, Professor Irving suggests the pressure has intensified on Australia.

"As proponents like to remind us, all other comparable countries, including Britain, New Zealand and Canada, have adopted a bill or charter of rights.

"If it is to be so, the issue must be how to make a bill compatible with Australian democracy.

"Australia's constitutional democracy is built on representative government and the separation of powers. In principle, the legislature makes the laws and the courts enforce them.

"A bill of rights changes this. Unelected courts gain the power to frustrate elected governments if they hold a law to be in breach of rights.

"This may sound fine, even desirable. But many rights are in fact political. They rest on controversial propositions, matters open to reasonable disagreement, issues that should properly be debated in the public arena."

To read the entire article - Might a right, but let's not bill the rest 

 

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