Summary of the Tasmanian Human Rights Act

as proposed by the Tasmanian Law Reform Institute

The Human Rights Act (the Act) will be an ordinary piece of legislation (not part of Tasmania’s Constitution).

The Act would be for the benefit of human beings only, not corporations.

The Supreme Court can make any order it considers just and appropriate to remedy unlawful activity inconsistent with the Act. Mediation will be available prior to any court action.

Rights in the Act are only subject to such reasonable limits as can be demonstrably justified in a free and democratic society.

Courts won’t be able to change legislation: Parliament remains the supreme decision making body.

All public authorities are covered, and must act in line with the Act.

Proposed new laws tabled in Parliament must have a statement of compatibility outlining how the new laws accord with human rights listed in the Act.

Courts must interpret legislation so that it is consistent with the Act. If that’s not possible, the Supreme Court will issue a statement of incompatibility.

Following a statement of incompatibility, Parliament will have seven months to decide whether to (a) reaffirm the legislation; or (b) amend it to make it compatible with the Act. It is in this way that Parliament remains supreme.

Ministers must make new policy consistent with the Act: briefs to Cabinet must spell out how the initiative impacts on human rights.

The Act will cover civil and political rights, economic, social and cultural rights and some additional rights.  The complete list is at the base of this page.

There will be a Human Rights Commissioner to advocate for human rights, review how the Act works over time, and to join any court proceedings involving interpretation of the Act as a “friend of the court”.

Rights in a Tasmanian Human Rights Act:

  • The right to life;
  • The protection of the family and children;
  • The right to liberty and security of the person;
  • The right to humane treatment when detained;
  • The right to a fair hearing;
  • The right of children to special treatment in the criminal justice process;
  • The right to compensation for wrongful conviction;
  • The right not to be tried or punished for conduct that was not a criminal offence when it was engaged in (freedom from retrospective punishment);
  • The right not to be imprisoned for a contractual debt;
  • The right to privacy and reputation;
  • Freedom of movement;
  • Freedom of conscience, thought, religion and belief;
  • Freedom of expression;
  • Freedom of association and peaceful assembly and the right to form and join trade unions;
  • The right to vote and to participate in public life;
  • The right to self-determination;
  • The right to recognition as a person before the law;
  • The right to equality before the law and to equal protection of the law;
  • Freedom from discrimination;
  • The right of ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities to enjoy their own culture;
  • The right of Indigenous Tasmanians to maintain their distinctive identity, culture, kinship ties and spiritual, material and economic relationship with the land;
  • The right not to be subject to torture or cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment;
  • Freedom from slavery and forced work;
  • The right to work and just conditions of work;
  • The right of children not to be exploited economically or socially;
  • The right to adequate food, clothing and housing;
  • The right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health;
  • The right to education;
  • The right not to be deprived of property except on just terms;
  • The right to a safe environment and to the protection of the environment from pollution and ecological degradation; and
  • Freedom from genocide.