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Josh Burns tables the inquiry report in Parliament (Facebook/Josh Burns MP)

A new parliamentary report has recommended Australia pass a Human Rights Act that would make it illegal for any public authority to ignore human rights. Source: RiotACT.

The Parliamentary Joint Committee on Human Rights, chaired by federal Labor MP Josh Burns, tabled its inquiry report regarding Australia’s Human Rights Framework.

The committee has made 17 detailed recommendations, including that the government re-establish and significantly improve the framework.

This would include “comprehensive and effective protection of human rights in legislation, through the establishment of a Human Rights Act”.

The report attracted immediate controversy, with the Coalition rejecting its findings and recommendations.

The Opposition said any such legislation would place excessive restrictions on freedoms of expression, particularly freedom of religion.

In his report, Mr Burns said Australians expected their rights and freedoms to be protected and respected.

Describing human rights as the basic rights and freedoms applying to all people regardless of their background or belief, based on principles of dignity, equality and mutual respect, Mr Burns said the idea of a ”fair go” and an egalitarian society was the very idea of human rights.

During its inquiry, the committee received 335 public submissions and more than 4000 form or campaign letters, and held six public hearings featuring evidence from a range of community groups, religious organisations, government bodies and other experts.

In its submission to the inquiry in June 2023, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said it did not have a position on a Human Rights Act but that “any legitimate human rights framework must contain adequate protections for the right to religious freedom”.

The ACBC concluded there was a need for a religious freedom bill first before a human rights act was considered: “One way to remedy the disparity in human rights protections in Australia is to ensure that a charter of rights is preceded by a religious freedom bill that will ensure the protection of freedoms of thought, conscience and religion.”


Fine-tune the fair go: Parliamentary inquiry recommends national Human Rights Act (By Chris Johnson, RiotACT)


Inquiry into Australia’s Human Rights Framework (

Submissions to the inquiry (