Last week the boyf and I attended a public forum on the Human Right Consultation process that is being undertaken by the federal government. The purpose of the process is to gain input from all Australians, not just the usual suspects (politicians, lawyers, etc.), by making submissions via the website above, via mail or via a community roundtable discussion.
Here is a short clip I made at the forum.
The questions that are being asked are:
- Which human rights and responsibilities should be protected and promoted?
- Are human rights sufficiently protected and promoted?
- How could Australia better protect and promote human rights?
It is important to note that the government is not proposing to have a constitutional based Bill of Rights. The proposal is for a statute to be passed by federal parliament that provides a framework for the rights that should apply in Australia.
Did you know that in 1787, the newly appointed governor of New South Wales, Arthur Phillip said:
There can be no slavery in a free land and consequently no slaves.
This was 20 years before the UK passed laws against slavery, and well before the US abolished slavery with the 13th amendment to the US constitution in 1865. This is a landmark event, and we do not celebrate this fact at all.
Did you know that Australia was central to the drafting of the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights in 1948, with the Australian delegation ensuring that economic, social and cultural rights were included? Or that ‘Doc’ Evatt (who I note is from my hometown of Maitland) was the president of the UN and was formally handed the UNDHR on the 10th Dec 1948?
And so, once upon a time we were at the forefront of establishing human rights. It is now said that we are the only western country that does not have any form of human rights defined in law, whether it is by statute or by a bill of rights.
Over the next few weeks I will post up a number of threads that cover different aspects of the consultation process. I am also thinking about using the comments gathered here to compose a submission that I can on behalf of the blogocrats.