PIAC’s submission includes both procedural and substantive recommendations to ensure the Legislation Review Act 1987, and its associated Parliamentary Committee, better protect human rights in NSW.
This includes changes to terminology, referring to ‘human rights’ not ‘personal rights and liberties’, and defining this term to specifically include international human rights law, including those human rights instruments to which Australia is a party.
The submission also recommends the introduction of a requirement for Ministers or MLAs/MLCs introducing legislation to prepare a statement of compatibility outlining whether the legislation is compatible with human rights, and why.
PIAC further supports strengthening the role of reports prepared by the Legislation Review Committee, such as stipulating that ordinarily debate on legislation should not proceed unless a Committee report has been prepared, and that Ministers or MLAs/MLCs introducing legislation must respond to issues highlighted in these reports during the second reading debate.
In addition to calling for more resources to be provided to the Committee secretariat to allow it to perform an expanded role, the submission recommended that the Committee should be able to undertake inquiries on human rights issues referred to it by the Attorney General, the Legislative Assembly or the Legislative Council.
Finally, PIAC acknowledges that human rights in NSW will not be adequately protected in the absence of a Human Rights Act and calls for the NSW Parliament to consider development of one, potentially based on existing models in Victoria and the ACT.