February 27, 2019
The State Government has enshrined 23 human rights in a Bill passed in State Parliament on Wednesday.
Attorney-General Yvette D’Ath said the legislation was about protecting people’s rights.
“Queensland’s Human Rights Act is about a better Queensland – modern, fair and responsive,” she said.
“The primary aim of the legislation is to ensure that respect for human rights is embedded in the culture of the public sector, and that public functions are exercised in a principled way that is compatible with human rights.”
The new Act mirrors similar acts in force in Victoria and the ACT, but includes several rights they omit.
As part of the Act’s introduction, the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission will be renamed the Queensland Human Rights Commission (QHRC) and given oversight of the Act’s implementation.
Mrs D’Ath said the QHRC conciliation function would be the first of its kind in Australia and play an important role in educating and informing the community about human rights and the Act.
“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,” she said.
The QHRC will be able to seek relief or remedy for decisions that breach human rights, but has no power to order the payment of damages.
Ms D’Ath said the new Act honoured an election commitment.
“We are advancing the rights of Queenslanders and providing better services,” she said.
“This legislation underscores that we must put people first in all that we do – in our actions and our decisions, and in our interactions with one another.”
The Bill protects 23 human rights:
The Act amends 20 existing Acts, but provisions note it does not override Commonwealth laws, and some rights – such as freedom of assembly for outlaw bikers – are limited.
Mrs D’Ath said the vast majority of the 280 submissions regarding the Bill supported its introduction.
“I would like to thank the stakeholders and members of the public who took the time to provide submissions and attend hearings,” she said.
“A special mention and thank you goes to the stakeholders who have been advocating for a Human Rights Act for many years; without their tenacity we would not be where we are today.”
The new Act will come into force on July 1.
It will be reviewed in 2023 when consideration will be given to whether rights should be included.