Queensland Law Society

Working group updates

Human Rights Inquiry – Report released

Following the Society’s submissions to the Human Rights Inquiry on 22 April 2016 and its appearance before the parliamentary Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee (the Committee)’s public hearing into whether it is appropriate and desirable to legislate for human rights in Queensland, the Committee has now released its report on this seminal issue for all Queenslanders (the Report).

The Report does not reach an agreed conclusion on whether it would be appropriate and desirable to introduce Queensland human rights legislation. The Report referenced several of the Society’s key proponent and opponent perspectives, including:

  • That Australia’s international obligations are not legally binding under Australian laws unless specific Australian laws bring these into force.
  • That an act would foster proactive consideration of human rights to avoid the need for remedy at later stages.
  • The non-government members’ position that addressing human rights issues is best achieved through direct legislative change (agreeing with The Honourable Richard Chesterman’s comments).
  • The limitation of human rights and the risk of pursuing individual rights at the expense of upholding community peace and order.

Queensland Parliament Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee

The Queensland Parliament’s Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee (the Committee) has invited the Society to appear at its public hearing on Thursday 9 June 2016, to inform its inquiry into whether it is appropriate or desirable to legislate for a human rights act in Queensland, other than through a constitutionally entrenched model.

The Committee is considering all aspects of human rights legislation. The Society’s submissions adopted neither a proponent, nor opponent position around legislating for human rights. The Society instead proffered views to the Inquiry which reflect those both of its Working Group’s full constituency and its wider membership (with which the Society consulted broadly). Accordingly, it looks forward to informing the Committee of the range of considerations attending this seminal issue for all Queenslanders.

Members who wish to follow progress on this can stream the Committee’s public hearing live.

Submissions made to the Human Rights Inquiry

Submissions made by QLS to the Inquiry on 22 April have now been made publicly available. The Society's submissions put forward both the proponent and opponent views concerning whether Queensland should legislate for human rights. This is reflective of the full spectrum of the input received from the Society's membership. Please refer to the letter and submission for further details.

Human Rights Working Group - working document well under way

The QLS Human Rights Working Group (HRWG) met again on Monday, 7 March 2016 with the primary objective of giving further direction and substance to its draft working advice to QLS Council on the Human Rights Inquiry.

Key points arising from this meeting include:

  • A confirmed emphasis on the HRWG’s advice comprising all positions for and against a Human Rights Act in line with the views of the Society’s membership.
  • Referring to and relying on the Society’s significant ground work laid by its State Call to Parties campaign as a solid basis, not only for the Parliamentary Committee attaching significance to the HRWG’s submissions, but also to build on the successes already achieved in relation to Queenslanders’ human rights.
  • That the Society’s submissions should make reference to objectives (for example, policy statements) which could be achieved regardless of whether human rights are legislated for, so that the strengthening of Queenslanders’ human rights protection is not limited to the absolute concept of passing or not passing legislation.
  • The importance of education, for example, of our police and judicial officers, in the carrying out of mechanisms to protect human rights.
  • The need to align Queensland human rights with Australia’s international obligations.
  • The policy-oriented nature of reform being considered in this space and experience in other jurisdictions (such as the UK and ACT) that the change effected is cultural and often preventative, therefore difficult to quantify.
The deadline for member feedback was Wednesday, 23 March 2016.
The HRWG has finalised its advice to QLS Council.


QLS president (2016) Bill Potts thanked all who attended the Human Rights Debate on Wednesday 20 April at Law Society House, along with the working group members, Anti-Discrimination Commissioner Kevin Cocks AM and working group chair Dan Rogers.

Bill Potts - Human Rights Working Group 

This page will keep you updated on the working group’s progress, as well as relevant resources for your consideration.