Australia’s Protection of Human Rights: is a charter of rights a solution?
Free Public Lecture
While historically a good international citizen, Australia has failed over recent years to protect fundamental freedoms or to comply with its international human rights obligations. Australians no longer speak the language of human rights as we have become isolated from the human rights laws and jurisprudence of comparable nations; the courts struggle to find the legal tools to comply with the common law principle of legality; parliaments have failed in their traditional role of restraining the executive abuse of discretion; the various forms of media are swamped by false news, post truth and alternative facts. In this regressive environment, we have been unable to agree upon indigenous recognition, the numbers of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders imprisoned are unprecedented; we continue to detain without charge or trial hundreds of asylum seekers and refugees offshore; we hold indefinitely those unfit to stand trial; domestic violence, homelessness and elder abuse remain serious social problems.
Unlike every other democracy and common law country in the world, Australia has no Bill or Charter of Rights. Australia now needs a federally legislated Charter of Rights, at minimum, the so-called dialogue model, to provide a benchmark against which laws passed by Parliament and government discretions can be tested for compliance with the common law and our human rights treaties.
This SHAPS event commemorates the 10th Anniversary of the Greg Dening Memorial Lecture
Professor Emeritus Gillian Triggs, University of Melbourne
Professor Emeritus Gillian Triggs
University of Melbourne
Gillian Triggs was the President of the Australian Human Rights Commission from 20122017 and is the new Chair of Justice Connect, a nonprofit dedicated to connecting people locked out of the justice system with free legal help. She is also Vice Chancellor's Fellow at the University of Melbourne and Vice President of the Asian Development Bank Tribunal. She was Dean of the Faculty of Law and Challis Professor of International Law at the University of Sydney from 2007–2012 and Director of the British Institute of International and Comparative Law from 2005–2007. Professor Triggs is a former Barrister with Seven Wentworth Chambers and a Governor of the College of Law. Professor Triggs graduated in Law from the University of Melbourne in 1968 and gained a PhD in 1982. She has combined an academic career with international commercial legal practice and worked with governments and international organisations advising on including human rights law. She is focused on the implementation in Australian law of the human rights treaties to which Australia is a party, and on working with nations in the Asia Pacific region on practical approaches to human rights.