House debates

Wednesday, 27 August 2014


Human Rights Committee; Report

9:01 am

Photo of Laurie FergusonLaurie Ferguson (Werriwa, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

On behalf of the Joint Committee on Human Rights, I present the committee's 10th report of the 44th parliament entitled Examination of legislation in accordance with the Human Rights (Parliamentary Scrutiny) Act 2011: Bills introduced 7-17 July 2014, Legislative Instruments received 21 June-25 July 2014. I ask leave of the House to make a short statement in connection with the report.

Leave granted.

I rise to speak to the tabling of the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights 10th report of the 44th parliament. The committee considered 22 bills. Of these, 16 do not require further scrutiny as they are compatible with human rights. The committee has decided to further defer its consideration of two bills. The committee has identified six bills that it considers requires further examination for which it will seek further information. Of the bills considered, those which are scheduled for debate during the sitting week commencing 25 August include: the Fair Work Amendment Bill 2014 and the Australian Citizenship Amendment (Intercountry Adoption) Bill 2014.

The report outlines the committee's assessment of the compatibility of these bills with human rights. I encourage my fellow members to look to the committee's report to inform your deliberations on the merits of this proposed legislation. I would like to draw members' attention to two bills in support which are of particular interest and relevance to the committee's task of assessing legislation for compatibility with human rights.

Firstly, the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Amendment Bill 2014 seeks to amend the Australian Sports Anti-Doping Authority Act 2006 to align Australia's anti-doping legislation with the revised World Anti-Doping Code and international standards that come into force on 1 January 2015. The committee notes the challenge of seeking to realise the goal of drug- and doping-free sport while ensuring that any anti-doping measures are compatible with fundamental human rights.

As noted in the report, the committee has recommended that the bill be amended to include a requirement that the 'prohibited association, anti-doping rule violation' will apply only insofar as it is consistent with the right to freedom of association protected under international human rights law. The committee has also raised concerns about measures which engage fair trial rights and the prohibition on retrospective criminal laws.

The committee has sought the advice of the minister as to whether the measures are compatible with these rights, noting that the statement of compatibility did not adequately identify and assess how potential limitations on rights would be reasonable, necessary and proportionate in each case.

Secondly, the International Tax Agreements Amendment Bill 2014 seeks to give effect to a double taxation treaty between Australia and Switzerland. I note that the report draws attention to the statement of compatibility accompanying the bill, and the exemplary assessment which it provides of the bill's impact on the right to privacy.

While it is fair to say that there is still considerable room for improvement in the quality of statements of compatibility, it is pleasing to be able to point to an example which demonstrates that departments continue to develop the knowledge and expertise to formulate human rights assessments that are consistent with the committee's human rights analytical framework.

I commend the officers of the Treasury responsible for preparation of the statement of compatibility for this bill, and I encourage members to consult the full report for discussion of these and other bills currently before the Parliament.

With these comments, I commend the committee's 10th report of the 44th parliament to the chamber.