Law Reform · Access to Justice

Have your say: Human Rights Act for Queensland

05 April, 2016

By passing a Human Rights Act, Queensland will make a statement demonstrating its support for fundamental human rights. Before 18 April 2016, let the Queensland Government know that our State deserves a Human Rights Act.

  • Written submissions addressing the terms of reference are now invited, and will be accepted until 4.00pm on Monday, 18 April 2016.

The Legislative Assembly has requested that the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee inquire into ‘whether it is appropriate and desirable to legislate for a Human Rights Act in Queensland’.

EDO Qld strongly encourages submissions to be made in favour of the creation of a Human Rights Act in Queensland.

By passing a Human Rights Act, Queensland will make a statement demonstrating its support for fundamental human rights, and committing to the consideration of human rights by the government in the introduction of new legislation. Although Australia is a signatory to many international human rights treaties, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, there is currently no blanket recognition of human rights in Australia or Queensland.

A Human Rights Act would be highly beneficial to Queenslanders through helping to safeguard the basic freedoms and protections that all human beings are entitled to. These basic rights should include the right to a healthy environment, such as the right to clean air and water. Without a clean, healthy environment, the basic human rights to life, health, work and education all cannot be fully realised. As stated in principle 1 of the Rio Declaration, human beings are "at the centre of concerns for sustainable development.  They are entitled to a healthy and productive life in harmony with nature.”[1]

The passing of a Human Rights Act would be a step forward in the effectiveness of our laws in protecting our human right to a healthy environment, and would also help to give more rights to those whose lives are impacted by environmental abuses.

Some key points you might like to make in your submission in support of the right to a healthy environment are:

  • Through introducing a human right to a healthy environment, the government will be required to consider in a more fulsome way how proposed legislation or policy might impact on people, including the environment those people are dependent on for their livelihoods or health.
  • By providing a requirement for the consideration up front of the impact a proposed project, law or policy might have on the human right to a healthy environment, there is less chance that litigation might be undertaken to challenge that project, law or policy on the basis of the impacts to the right to a healthy environment.
  • Too often the rights of more marginalised Queenslanders are not given as strong a weight as the rights of others; for example, rural Queenslander’s, including indigenous people, frequently suffer impacts to their air and water quality which would not be allowed to occur in urban Queensland. A Human Rights Act would help to address this imbalance in the concern for the environmental needs of marginalised people versus those in cities.
  • A Human Rights Act would help to ensure that the Government gives appropriate consideration to the rights of all Queenslanders to transparency and accountability in governance, through ensuring rights such as the right to access to information, such as monitoring data, or the right to have your concern’s heard with respect to development proposals that might affect you.

To view the Terms of Reference and find out how to make a submission, click here.

Submissions should be directed to:

Email address:  lacsc@parliament.qld.gov.au

Postal address:

The Research Director
Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee
Parliament House
Brisbane QLD 4000

EDO Qld will be providing a template submission shortly to help you in the preparation of your submission. Stay tuned!

[1]http://www.unep.org/documents.multilingual/default.asp?documentid=78&articleid=1163]

Environmental Defenders Office Queensland (EDO Qld) gives a strong legal voice to the environment when needed most.

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