Lecture to question human rights law in Australia


CDU Professorial Fellow, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG.

CDU Professorial Fellow, The Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG.

Australia’s failure to establish constitutional or statutory law to protect fundamental human rights is “out of step” with other democratic nations worldwide, according to an international jurist who will give a public lecture at Casuarina campus.

Charles Darwin University Professorial Fellow, the Hon Michael Kirby AC CMG will speak on “The inevitable tension between universal human rights and the three-year national electoral cycle” on Tuesday, 8 August.

Mr Kirby said a recent reprint of the publication “Charter of Rights for Australia” showed that only the Sultanate of Brunei, the Vatican and Australia did not have a human rights law that ordinary citizens could invoke in the independent courts.

“This does not necessarily mean that Australia is wrong, but it raises a serious question as to why our citizens should have less protection against inequality and injustice than people virtually everywhere else on the planet,” he said.

Mr Kirby, who is an educator, academic and former High Court of Australia justice, said Australia continued to enact laws that infringed on the 1948 Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

“Some activities undertaken by the Australian Government, including outsourcing refugee applicants to foreign countries, are impossible to reconcile with international human rights law,” he said.

Mr Kirby said adopting a Charter of Rights would assist in protecting people against excesses of government power, and would stimulate democracy to be more attentive to fundamental rights.

“A glance at Australia's history and recent experience shows there were many cases in which minorities have not been able to rely on parliament to correct serious wrongs and inequalities,” he said.

Mr Kirby’s lecture will be held at building Blue One from 3pm – 5pm.

For enquiries or to RSVP: felicity.gerry@cdu.edu.au

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