Australia Laws

Australia Laws


Australia is the only Western country in the world to not have a Bill of Rights.


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A bill of rights, sometimes called a declaration of rights or a charter of rights, is a list of the most important rights of the citizens of a country. The purpose is to protect those rights against infringement from public officials and private citizens.

Bills of rights may be entrenched or unentrenched. An entrenched bill of rights cannot be amended or repealed by a country's legislature through the regular procedure, instead of requiring a supermajority or referendum; often it is part of a country's constitution, and therefore subject to special procedures applicable to constitutional amendments. A bill of rights that is not entrenched is a normal statute law and as such can be modified or repealed by the legislature at will.

In practice, not every jurisdiction enforces the protection of the rights articulated in its bill of rights.

The constitution of the United Kingdom remains uncodified, However, the Bill of Rights of 1689 is part of UK law. The Human Rights Act 1998 also incorporates the rights contained in the European Convention on Human Rights into UK law. Recent infringements of liberty, democracy, and the rule of law have led to demands for a new comprehensive British Bill of Rights upheld by a new independent Supreme Court with the power to nullify government laws and policies violating its terms.

Australia is the only common law country with neither a constitutional nor federal legislative bill of rights to protect its citizens, although there is an ongoing debate in many of Australia's states. In 1973, Federal Attorney-General Lionel Murphy introduced a human rights Bill into parliament, although it was never passed. In 1984, Senator Stephen Bunce drafted a Bill of Rights, but it was never introduced into parliament, and in 1985, Senator Lionel Bowen introduced a bill of rights, which was passed by the House of Representatives, but failed to pass the Senate. Former Australian Prime Minister John Howard has argued against a bill of rights for Australia on the grounds it would transfer power from elected politicians (populist politics) to unelected (constitutional) judges and bureaucrats. Victoria, Queensland, and the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) are the only states and territories to have a human rights Act.

However, the principle of legality present in the Australian judicial system seeks to ensure that legislation is interpreted so as not to interfere with basic human rights unless legislation expressly intends to interfere.


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