A human rights act for Queensland?
Lessons from recent Australian experience
Australia is a latecomer to the idea of having anything akin to a bill of rights. When drafting the national Constitution in the final decade of the 19th century, the framers chose not to include broad-ranging guarantees of human rights. They did so on the ground that protection could be provided by other means, in particular the system of parliamentary democracy. This view has since been challenged, and in the 1970s and early 1980s legislation was introduced into federal parliament for a national human rights act. These bills were not passed, but other initiatives have since sought change. In 1988, Australians voted No in a referendum to constitutionally entrench a number of specific rights, while 2009 saw a wide-ranging national human rights consultation. It reported that the public overwhelmingly supported reform, but its recommendations for a national human rights act were not adopted. As a result, Australia remains the only democracy without some form of national bill of rights.