Queensland Introduces Human Rights Bill

Monday 12 November 2018 @ 9.22 a.m. | Legal Research

The Queensland Government introduced the Human Rights Bill 2018 (QLD) (‘the Bill’) on 31 October 2018. This Bill proposes to establish guidelines to protect and promote human rights. In doing so, the Bill proposes to build a culture and create a dialogue about human rights in the Queensland public sector.

Background to the Bill

The explanatory notes highlight that while Australia has accepted legal obligations under various international instruments, treaties are not direct sources of rights and obligations unless incorporated into legislation. To this end, the Bill aims to consolidate statutory and common law protections relating to human rights which are recognised under international instruments.

The provisions in the Bill are based on a 2015 inquiry into the desirability and necessity of a Human Rights Act by the Legal Affairs and Community Safety Committee. The final report, the Inquiry into a Possible Human Rights Act for Queensland, was tabled on 30 June 2016. The Committee was unable to agree on the necessity of a Human Rights Act in Queensland. Government members supported such an Act, but non-government members opposed this Act.

Legislative Objects

The objects of this Bill are the following:

  • The protection and promotion of human rights;
  • The building of a culture of respect and promotion of human rights in the Queensland public sector and
  • The promotion of a dialogue about human rights.

These objectives are based on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) as noted in the associated explanatory notes. The Bill is also based on human rights legislation such as the Victorian Charter and the ACT Human Rights Act, which both incorporate a ‘dialogue’ model of human rights which provides a framework for dialogue between the arms of government.

In her second reading speech, Attorney-General of Queensland and Minister for Justice and Minister for Training and Skills Yvette D’Ath stated that the purpose of the Bill focused on ‘changing the culture of the public sector.’ On the framework of the Bill, she stated:

‘In keeping with our longstanding commitment to government accountability and ensuring that government functions are exercised in a principled way, this bill will form part of an existing framework of oversight mechanisms and administrative law obligations, such as the Right to Information Act 2009, the Information Privacy Act 2009, the Judicial Review Act 1991, the Ombudsman Act 2001, the Anti-Discrimination Act 1991 and the Crime and Corruption Act 2001.’

She continued:

‘The bill protects 23 human rights. These are primarily civil and political rights drawn from the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights but also include two rights drawn from the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and one from the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. The bill also explicitly recognises the special importance of human rights to the Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples of Queensland as Australia’s first people and their distinctive and diverse spiritual, material and economic relationship with the lands, territories, waters and coastal seas. It also recognises the particular significance of the right to self-determination to Aboriginal peoples and Torres Strait Islander peoples.’

TimeBase is an independent, privately owned Australian legal publisher specialising in the online delivery of accurate, comprehensive and innovative legislation research tools including LawOne and unique Point-in-Time Products. Nothing on this website should be construed as legal advice and does not substitute for the advice of competent legal counsel.


Human Rights Bill 2018 (QLD), and associated explanatory notes and second reading speech.

Related Articles: