Australia's poor human rights record


BRISBANE — "Australia is the only Western democracy without human rights legislation", James Whelan from Amnesty International told a public forum attended by 50 people on May 23.

Labor state minister for education Dean Wells argued for a charter of human rights like those adopted in Victoria and the ACT and that which has been operating for 17 years in New Zealand. Such a charter requires a statement of compatibility with human rights to accompany every bill that comes before parliament.

Jessica Moore, who faced police investigation in Wollongong last year under the so-called anti-terror laws, pointed out that state Labor governments have been collaborating with the federal Coalition to implement the draconian laws. Moore, an anti-war activist who has helped organise demonstrations in support of Palestinians' right to self-determination, was accused of aiding Hamas in an anonymous complaint to the federal government's anti-terror hotline.

"My experience shows that police are political, ideological. These anti-terror laws are totally against free speech", Moore said. She urged people to collectively defy the laws and mobilise against them. "We need to campaign for a bill of human rights to protect our freedoms."

Jim McIlroy