COVID-19 pandemic exposed fundamental flaw in Australia’s laws

The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare the missing human rights considerations in federal government decisions and policies, the Human Rights Law Centre today told the Federal Government COVID-19 inquiry on behalf of the Charter of Rights campaign, a coalition made up of over 90 organisations.

In a submission to the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, the Centre called for an Australian Charter of Human Rights, which would put human rights at the heart of government decision-making and laws. The Charter would have been a powerful tool to challenge controversial decisions by the then-Morrison Government, including the inadequate COVID-19 vaccination roll-out and the travel ban against Australian citizens and permanent residents returning from India.

Australia is the only western liberal democracy without a Charter of Human Rights or similar in our laws.

Quote attributed to Arif Hussein, Senior Lawyer at the Human Rights Law Centre:

“The COVID-19 pandemic exposed a fundamental flaw missing in our law and policy-making: the consideration of human rights through an Australian Human Rights Act or Charter.

“A Charter of Human Rights will ensure human rights are at the heart of government responses to future pandemics and other crises. A Federal Human Rights Act or Charter will help prevent human rights violations, provide a powerful tool to challenge injustice, and foster understanding and respect for human rights.”

Read our submission here