Find the full transcript:
Introduction from Bronwyn Kelly:
On 28 September 2023, representing Australian Community Futures Planning, I addressed the federal Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights as a witness in its Inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights Framework. I made a case in support of a Human Rights Act but stated that the Constitution is a barrier to security of the human rights of Australians.
After my appearance at the Inquiry, Indigenous independent Senator Lidia Thorpe asked me two Questions on Notice. They’re really great questions and the answers go to the heart of how we should understand:
the very limited form of democracy we have in Australia,
how that is impacting our human rights, and
what we can do to make the Constitution fit for a 21st century democracy – one where everyone has political equality and is secure in all the human rights they need.
These answers have been published and are available on the federal parliamentary website at https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Joint/Human_Rights/HumanRightsFramework/Additional_Documents
Senator Thorpe’s questions were:
Can you confirm your submission that unless a Bill or Charter of rights is constitutionally enshrined, there is no domestic legal way to hold the executive government accountable for passing laws that abuse human rights beyond the government of the day choosing how they are held accountable for breaches through [sic.]?
What is the biggest danger in pursuing the weaker AHRC [Australian Human Rights Commission] proposal as opposed to the constitutional model?
What’s in this Episode?
In Episodes 37 and 38 of this podcast series on Insights into Human Rights and Democracy in Australia, I provided my answer to Senator Thorpe’s first question. In this Episode 39 I’ll answer her second question.
In summary, I have suggested that the the biggest danger of “pursuing the weaker AHRC proposal as opposed to the constitutional model” is the risk of executive overreach which has the potential both to:
eliminate the democratic rights of Australians, and
expand the governmental abuse of rights already evident on the record.
I also list and substantiate five reasons why Australians must all have human rights in the Constitution. In no particular order they are:
A stable treaty with First Nations will not be possible unless human rights are first assured for all Australians equally in the Constitution.
Future referendums for constitutional amendment are unlikely to succeed unless Australians are first assured that human rights are the property of all as equals.
Australians would trust both parliaments and legislation more if they knew that laws were being made consistent with their stated rights and interests.
Unless Australians have rights in the Constitution, we cannot have responsible government.
Unless Australians have rights in the Constitution, we cannot restore a proper balance of power between the parliament, the executive government, and the courts.
Full transcript of this series on Insights into Human Rights and Democracy in Australia
Click here for a full transcript of Episodes 37, 38 and 39 on Insights into Human Rights and Democracy in Australia.
Or find the transcript at the ACFP website at https://www.austcfp.com.au/supporting-activities
What’s the basis of Bronwyn Kelly’s testimony?
The full reasoning behind Bronwyn Kelly’s testimony to the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights can be found in her book, The People’s Constitution: the path to empowerment of Australians in a 21st century democracy, available in paperback here and on Kindle here. Or click on the picture below. Or visit the Australian Community Futures Planning website to purchase The People’s Constitution at https://www.austcfp.com.au/publications
Listen to the full reading of The People’s Constitution on Apple Podcast
A full reading of The People’s Constitution: the path to empowerment of Australians in a 21st century democracy is available in The Australia Together Podcast here.
Chapter headings of The People’s Constitution
Chapter 1: The limits of Australia’s representative democracy
Chapter 2: Setting a path to power for the people
Chapter 3: Finding a place to start
Chapter 4: Essentials for a new start as a nation
Chapter 5: Essential No. 1 – Building a statement of Australian national values
Chapter 6: Essential No. 2 – Enshrinement of human rights and obligations in an Australian people’s constitution
Chapter 7: Essential No. 3 – A process for expression on the Australian people’s national voice
Chapter 8: Essential No. 4 – Priority constitutional amendments for an inclusive democracy
Chapter 9: Processes for engagement on and adoption of The Australian People’
Chapter 10: The possibilities of a new democracy under a people’s constitution