On 8 October 2009, the National Human Rights Consultation Committee, which had been commissioned by the Rudd Government to consider human rights in Australia, handed down its report recommending the adoption of an Australian Human Rights Act. This was a landmark moment, representing Australia’s best chance to become the last western nation to adopt comprehensive human rights legislation.
At the time, the Government accepted the report but delayed its response, creating a vacuum which has been filled by a spirited debate. In the course of the debate, we believe that some of those opposed to a Human Rights Act for Australia have perpetuated myths about human rights legislation.
Since then, one state and one territory have adopted their own Human Rights Acts. Victoria adopted its Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities in 2006 and the Australian Capital Territory adopted the Human Rights Act in 2004. The absence of a Human Rights Act is still felt in the rest of Australia. However, in December 2015 the Queensland government announced an inquiry into the potential adoption of a Human Rights Act. While this is a preliminary step, it is a step in the right direction.In response to the myths and misconceptions that surround the idea of a Human Rights Act, the Castan Centre has prepared a number of “myth-busters”.