The Australian Human Rights Commission is urging all federal parliamentarians to support the passage of the new Australian Human Rights Commission Legislation Amendment (Selection and Appointment) Bill 2022.
Commission President, Emeritus Professor Rosalind Croucher AM, has welcomed the introduction to Parliament of the new Bill by Attorney-General, the Hon Mark Dreyfus QC MP, last week.
The Bill seeks to amend the process for all statutory appointments to the Commission to be merit-based and publicly advertised. This would remove the possibility of direct appointments to the eight statutory offices at the Commission without following such processes.
Professor Croucher said, “I congratulate the Attorney-General on his swift efforts to introduce the new Bill to Parliament. I now urge all federal parliamentarians to support the passage of the Bill to ensure the integrity of the Commission is strengthened and that Australia’s global reputation as a human rights leader remains intact.”
The existing legislation has been criticised by the Global Alliance of National Human Rights Institutions (GANHRI).
The Commission underwent its five-yearly GANHRI review as an A-Status national human rights institution in 2022. The outcome of the review has been deferred until October 2023 to provide the Australian Government with time to address deficiencies in the appointments process for commissioners.
“This is the first time in its history that the Commission has been at risk of our status being downgraded. Moreover, this has the potential to significantly undermine Australia’s reputation as a global human rights leader,” Professor Croucher said.
The Commission has provided a briefing note to parliamentarians about the Bill, including further context on the international accreditation of the Commission. The briefing note is available to view on the Commission’s website.