Last updated 1 December 2020
Considering human rights when making new laws
Parliament must now take the following steps to consider human rights when making new legislation in Queensland:
- When a Bill is proposed, it must be accompanied by a statement that explains whether or not the law is compatible with human rights, and to what extent it does not comply.
- The Bill will then be scrutinised by a parliamentary committee to determine its compatibility with human rights. The committee then provides a report to parliament.
Human rights must also be considered when making subordinate law such as Regulations, Rules and By-laws. In most cases:
- a human rights certificate must be tabled in parliament, stating whether the subordinate law is compatible with human rights, and to what extent it is not compatible
- the responsible committee then considers the human rights certificate when examining the subordinate legislation.
Parliament has the right to allow laws that are incompatible with human rights, but must state this clearly and publicly.
Parliament may make an ‘override declaration’ in exceptional circumstances, stating that the law has effect despite being incompatible with human rights. This will mean that the Human Rights Act 2019 (Qld) (Human Rights Act) will not apply to the law, and the Supreme Court cannot later declare the law incompatible with human rights. See ‘The Supreme Court’s declaratory power’ below.
A Bill may also be introduced with an override declaration saying that all or part of the new law is incompatible with human rights. Parliament can then allow the Bill to pass with the override declaration.
The Human Rights Act also applies directly to members of parliament when acting in an administrative capacity. This is limited to members of a parliamentary committee and a person who is performing functions in connection with parliamentary proceedings. The Human Rights Act requires these individuals to act and make decisions in a way that is compatible with human rights, and to properly consider human rights relevant to the decision when performing administrative tasks and functions.