UnitingJustice Australia has made a submission to the multi-party committee on climate change about the carbon price mechanism. We believe that the primary objectives of a price on carbon pollution must be to contribute effectively and appropriately to avoiding dangerous climate change, begin Australia’s transformation to a low-carbon economy and allow Australia to act with credibility in the continuing international climate change negotiations.
The Attorney General has invited comment on the recommendations made by the UN to Australia's Universal Periodic Review. In its submission, UnitingJustice highly recommends the implementation of a Human Rights Act which would provide a greater degree of legal protection for people whose human rights have been abused and responds to two areas of concern relating to Australia's treatment of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and asylum seekers and refugees.
The Attorney General has released a background paper for the development of a National Human Rights Action Plan for Australia. UnitngJustice encourages the Government to identify new commitments to human rights issues to ensure that the Plan is not primarily an explanation of existing programs.
UnitingJustice believes that as a matter of some urgency the Government must work to depoliticise the issue of asylum seekers, and that this must be accompanied by a change in policy which reflects a commitment to Australia’s responsibilities under the Refugee Convention. The Australian Government has an obligation to provide protection to all asylum seekers and the Migration and Humanitarian Program needs to be built upon this understanding.
UnitingJustice strongly supports the passage of these bills. It welcomes the Government’s commitment to the prevention of human rights violations in Australia, and recommends that the committee be given an expanded mandate, further assistance and adequate time frames enabling it to conduct its own scrutiny of proposed legislation.
Every few years, Australia must submit a report on how it’s meeting its human rights obligations. This regular review is the Universal Periodic Review. These are comments to the Attorney-General’s Department about what should be included in the Report. UnitingJustice believes that the formal apology to the Stolen Generations and the conduct of the National Human Rights Consultation are positive steps to include in the Report. The violations of human rights in the Northern Territory Emergency Response and the treatment of asylum seekers must also be acknowledged.
UnitingJustice believes that all legislation should be assessed against the international human rights standards which Australia has committed to uphold. It believes that Parliament needs to have a greater role in the protection of human rights, and as such it supports the recommendation of the Committee of the National Human Rights Consultation that a new Joint Committee on Human Rights be established.
UnitingJustice has commented on the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s observations on Australia’s record on civil and political rights. Whilst UnitingJustice welcomes the re-engagement of the current Federal Government with the United Nations human rights system, it believes that there are persistent violations of human rights within Australia, highlighted by the UN, which must be addressed.
UnitingJustice believes that the Health Requirement which applies to asylum seekers and refugees is discriminatory and impacts unfairly on potential migrants, refugees and humanitarian entrants. The Migration Act should not be exempt from the protections offered under the Disability Discrimination Act.
UnitingJustice has long advocated for a system of Complementary Protection. It believes that the Migration Amendment (Complementary Protection) Bill 2009 will ensure better and more humane process for those seeking protection under conventions and treaties other than the Refugee Convention.