Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities

A Labor Government will introduce a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities within the first term of Government.

A charter would help to inform people of their rights, freedoms and responsibilities in the one document and provide a basis for action to be taken if their rights are being infringed by government.

There are countless examples of violations of human rights across the world where a Charter of Human Rights could have made a difference such as people being denied their rights and even employment or adequate health care on the basis of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation or age.

Those type of violations have no place in a modern Tasmania.

Protecting and promoting human rights is a fundamental part of a just, inclusive and free democracy. Human rights ensure that everyone is treated equally, with dignity and respect.

Within 12 months Labor will establish the Premier’s Human Rights Advisory Council. The Advisory Council will finalise the model and oversee its implementation across Government and will include representation from government, human rights specialists, the community sector, advocacy groups and Aboriginal Tasmanians.

Many places around the world protect the rights of their citizens through either a Constitutional Bill of Rights, as in the USA and Canada, or through legislation as it is in the United Kingdom, Australian Capital Territory and Victoria. Australia is the only common law country that does not have a national Bill or Charter of Rights.

Ten years ago, the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute consulted with the Tasmanian community and found overwhelming support for a comprehensive Charter of Human Rights in Tasmania.

The former Labor Government developed a consultation paper in 2010 exploring a model for a Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities for Tasmania but was prevented from pursuing the Charter after the impact of the Global Financial Crisis hit the state budget.

A charter would ensure that human rights are considered whenever legislation is developed. It would not stop a government passing a law that would infringe a human right, but where this is done, the Government must provide an explanation as to why the law is in the public’s interest and should override a human right.

A charter would allow courts to find a law to be incompatible with the charter, however, where a Declaration of Incompatibility is found, it would not invalidate a law, but would require the government to reconsider the Act.