Monday, March 20, 2006

Human Rights Act Podcasts

New Matilda reports on "a community forum to discuss a bill of rights for Australia was held last Saturday at Leichhardt Town Hall. Three brilliant speakers addressed an old fashion meeting of over 300 people – Julian Burnside QC, refugee rights advocate, Susan Ryan AO, former Commonwealth Minster and Chair of Human Rights Act for Australia campaign, and Rob Hulls, Attorney General of Victoria. The event was organised by the ALP Port Jackson FEC and chaired by Verity firth, Deputy Lord Mayor of Sydney City Council."

Podcasts of the key speakers can be found at the New Matilda site.

Julian Burnside explained how his work on refugee cases had led him to change his mind on whether Australia needs a Bill of Rights. He urged people not to think that a US-style Bill of Rights is the only option and noted that there are a number of modern incarnations that Australia can draw on. He also explained why the commonly held view that the common law and the parliament are the best protectors of rights is false. He did this by demonstrating just how few limits are placed on the powers of parliament – for example, there is nothing to stop the parliament from passing a law that kills blue eyed babies.

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