Saturday 24 November 2007

New Leadership. Fresh Ideas

Kevin Rudd won convincingly. This is no surprise. I don't really care any more. There are a few things that will change (Work Choices, Freedom of Information, parliamentary terms (hopefully)) but in reality it'll be the same complaints for the next three years.

The more interesting thing I did today is this:

This is about a Human Rights Act, specifically in Tasmania, though it could be generalised nationally.

In October the Tasmanian Law Reform Commission released their Final Report #10 on a Charter of Human Rights for Tasmania. The model is quite good in most respects. It is similar to the New Matilda Act in that it is a piece of ordinary legislation.

The proposed Charter would recognise the superiority of Parliament to specifically exclude a piece of primary legislation from compatibility with the Charter[1]. It would, however, allow the Supreme Court to declare any executive action or subordinate legislation to be incompatible, resulting in that action or rule being invalidated.

The inconsistency, as I see it, is that in Australia (and especially in Tasmania) the Parliament is controlled by the executive. The Cabinet in Tasmania can rule the party caucus (8 of 13 members in the HoA) and a backbench revolt in Federal politics is beyond imagining[2].

So we recognise that the executive needs to be controlled but give the power to do anything to a body controlled by them? It is absurd.

If the executive were separate from the legislature (something for which I have long argued[3]) then this would indeed be appropriate. But as long as Parliament is a tool of the executive, it should not have the power to exclude the applicability of human rights.

The report makes for interesting reading, or even if you're not up for that, just check out the summary and recommendations.

[1] Subordinate legislation could be enabled by an Act of Parliament (i.e. primary legislation) and primary legislation ruled not compatible by the Supreme Court would become inactive after seven months if not affirmed by Parliament.

[2] Petro Georgio is the exception that proves the rule here.

[3] I've been saying it for at least a month now ;).

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