Queensland Law Society

QLS appears at human rights hearing

On Thursday 9 June 2016, Queensland Law Society representatives appeared before the parliamentary Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee’s public hearing into whether it is appropriate and desirable to legislate for human rights in Queensland.

QLS president Bill Potts was joined before the committee by the Honourable Richard Chesterman AO RFD QC (a member of the Queensland Law Society Human Rights Working Group) and Dan Rogers (chair of the working group).

The president’s opening statement highlighted that the Society, through the thorough and considered work of its Human Rights Working Group, had examined the complicating factors and uncertainties germane to human rights legislation enacted in other jurisdictions in order to inform Queensland’s government of the necessary cautions to be applied if and when it elects to follow suit.

The president also said he considered it incumbent on the Society, as the state’s peak legal body and with an eminently constituted Human Rights Working Group, to stand ready to provide comment on and legal advice concerning any draft legislation the government might elect to put forward, in fulfilling our role to assist this important reform.

Mr Rogers (the substantive author of the Society’s submissions setting out proponent arguments for human rights) highlighted the support for a dialogue model of human rights legislation to be introduced, which would underpin a both a renewed and proactive approach to the delivery of public services, as well as a cultural shift in the manner in which these services might be delivered.

Mr Chesterman advocated against a broad human rights Act addressing any current gaps in enforcement of peoples’ rights, and highlighted that cultural change ought to stem from executive guidance rather than be effected via legislation.

Regardless of the outcome of the parliamentary committee’s recommendations, the president underscored the Society’s support for evidence-based policy, and the practical, concrete betterment of laws for Queensland’s most vulnerable citizens.