©2018 by polity.

  • Alex Wok

A Bill of Rights


  • However, a push to enact stronger rights protection has been a focal point this year as a slew of high profile events demonstrated that our existing protections may not be enough. These events include:

  • Revelations from the Northern Territory about some of the darkest incidents in the history of juvenile justice.

  • Recent laws that would allow terror suspects as young as ten to be detained, for up to a fortnight, without charge.

  • The UN’s stark condemnation of Australia’s handling of offshore detention centres.

  • If a Bill of Rights were to be enacted, there are two main forms it could take:

  • A Constitutional Bill of Rights: the strongest form of protection available, where rights are entrenched into the Constitution. Any subsequent changes could only be made via a national referendum to amend the Constitution.

  • A State Bill of Rights: a bill of rights enacted through an ordinary act of Parliament e.g. in the form of a Human Rights Act. This can be done at both a State/Territory & Federal level. Both the ACT & Victoria have passed such legislation. If Australia were to enact a Bill of Rights, this is the form most legal academics prefer.​


Does Australia need a federal bill

of rights to prevent the erosion of

Civil liberties?


  1. The Guardian, 'Unacceptable': UN committee damns Australia's record on human rights

  2. The Sydney Morning Herald, ‘Does Australia need a Bill of Rights?

  3. Stephen Blanks opinion in: Sydney Criminal Lawyers, ‘It’s time for an Australian Bill of Rights

  4. Above, reference 3.

  5. The Conversation, ‘How a charter of rights could protect Australians’ fundamental freedoms

  6. Politico, ‘New French anti-terror law to replace 2-year state of emergency

  7. Gillian Triggs opinion in: The Guardian, ‘Gillian Triggs: Australian law has fallen prey to ‘isolation & exceptionalism’’

  8. Huffington Post, ‘Data Retention Laws Are Now In Effect & Here's What You Need To Know

  9. The Conversation, ‘Roxon got it right: we don’t need a bill of rights because we’ve already got one

  10. The Australian, ‘Bill of rights unwelcome outcome of politicising judges

  11. The Atlantic, ‘The Incredible Polarization & Politicization of the Supreme Court

  12. The Australian, ‘Bill of rights is the wrong call

  13. Above, reference 3; The Australian, ‘Bill of rights: picnic for lawyers disastrous for democracy