The Palaszczuk Government is delivering on another election commitment with the introduction of the Human Rights Bill 2018 to Queensland Parliament today.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said it was an historic day for Queenslanders everywhere.
“This year marks the 70th anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Like the UDHR, Queensland’s Human Rights Act will be a standard of achievement to which we all – government and citizens – should aspire,” she said.
“I am proud the Palaszczuk Government is taking a further step towards the protection of the human rights of Queenslanders with the introduction of the Human Rights Bill 2018.
“Not only are we honouring another election commitment, but we are advancing the rights of Queenslanders and providing better services with this Bill.
“The primary aim of the Bill is to ensure that respect for human rights is embedded in the culture of the Queensland public sector, and that public functions are exercised in a principled way that is compatible with human rights.
“The Bill protects 23 human rights:
- Recognition and equality before the law
- Right to life
- Protection from torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment
- Freedom from forced work
- Freedom of movement
- Freedom of thought, conscience, religion and belief
- Freedom of expression
- Peaceful assembly and freedom of association
- Taking part in public life
- Property rights
- Privacy and reputation
- Protection of families and children
- Cultural rights—generally
- Cultural rights—Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders
- Right to liberty and security of person
- Humane treatment when deprived of liberty
- Fair hearing
- Rights in criminal proceedings
- Children in the criminal process
- Right not to be tried or punished more than once
- Retrospective criminal laws
- Right to education
- Right to health services
The Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland (ADCQ) will be rebranded as the Queensland Human Rights Commission, and will be responsible for:
- promoting an understanding, an acceptance and a public discussion of human rights; and
- performing a dispute resolution process for human rights complaints.
“A dispute resolution function for the Commission will provide an accessible, independent and appropriate avenue for members of the community to raise human rights concerns with public entities with a view to reaching a practical resolution,” Mrs D’Ath said.
The current Anti-Discrimination Commissioner, Scott McDougall, will become the Human Rights Commissioner.
Mrs D’Ath said it was also about the everyday interactions of individuals with government.
“The Bill will require departments, agencies and public entities to make decisions and act in a way that is consistent with human rights,” she said.
“It will require the courts to interpret legislation in a way that is compatible with human rights, along with requiring the Parliament, including Parliamentary Committees, to consider whether bills are compatible with human rights.”
This Bill means Queensland will join other common law and Commonwealth countries such as Canada, the United Kingdom, New Zealand and South Africa, as well as Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory, in the legislative protection of human rights.
Human Rights Act for Queensland Campaign Co-ordinator Aimee McVeigh praised the introduction of the Bill as fantastic news.
“It’s a historic moment in Queensland, because Queenslanders will soon have their rights to be treated fairly, equally and with dignity protected in their laws,” Ms McVeigh.
“The Human Rights Bill will ensure that people’s fundamental rights are better protected in state law – including the right to education, privacy, health, and free speech.
“This is about protecting the values that we all hold dear – like equality, fairness, respect and compassion. It’s about protecting things like our right to see a doctor when we’re sick or ensuring all kids can get a good education regardless of their parent’s bank balance.”
Child protection body PeakCare Queensland Executive Director Lindsay Wegener called for bipartisanship in supporting the new legislation.
“All political parties should be committed to the protection and preservation of the human rights and entitlements of Queensland citizens,” Mr Wegener said.
“This includes not only those impacted by the child protection system, but also those who are engaged with aged care, health care, education, justice, and youth and adult correctional systems. At different times and in different circumstances, that just about covers all of us.”
Community Legal Centres Queensland Director James Farrell congratulated the Palaszczuk Government for introducing "sensible and positive reform".
“This law will go further with additional rights for Queenslanders including the right to education, right to healthcare, and the acknowledgement of cultural rights of First Peoples,” Mr Farrell said.
“Practically, being required to consider people’s human rights will sharpen Government’s focus, particularly when taking actions that impact people’s lives in areas like whether students get appropriate supports at school, people with disability can access government services, or families are threatened with eviction from public housing.”
Attorney-General and Minister for Justice
The Honourable Yvette D'Ath