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Statute of Liberty.

Updated on October 30, 2011

Australian unlike its closest ally the United States of America does not have a 'Bill of Rights'. Even though Australia has signed all five international treaties that make up the International Bill of Human Rights, none of these treaties are legally binding in Australia. Nor is there is a Bill of Rights in the Australian Constitution. This means that the fundamental rights and freedoms of everyone living in Australia are not protected by the law.

In the United States, the Bill of Rights is the name by which the first ten amendments to the United States Constitution are known. They were introduced by James Madison to the First United States Congress in 1789 as a series of articles, and came into effect on December 15, 1791, when they had been ratified by three-fourths of the States. Thomas Jefferson was a proponent of the Bill of Rights.

The Bill of Rights plays a central role in American law and government, and remains a fundamental symbol of the freedoms and culture of the nation. One of the original fourteen copies of the Bill of Rights is on public display at the National Archives in Washington, D.C.

Frequently, throughout the last 60 years, Australia has been an active
participant in world forums that supported recognition of human rights. It is
a high compliment to this country s standing as a champion of human rights
that it was one of the eight nations given responsibility in 1948 for drafting
the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. Since then, Australia has
played a leading role in the development and adoption of international
human rights treaties approved by the United Nations. By any reckoning,
Australia has done much to advance the cause of human rights and freedoms
in the long period since World War II. As recently as 2000, the Secretary-
General of the United Nations identified Australia as a model member of
the United Nations.

The Australian people emerged from a polyglot mixture of nationalities and other races: a kind of human minestrone. Not only a race, but a race apart, thanks to the kindness of distance. What distinctive moral vision have we attained from the struggles and sacrifices of our forebears? If we are to preserve the part of our heritage to do with freedom, we must write down the entitlement of every citizen in a way that politicians and public servants will respect. That means they must be turned into law. If they are not capable of legal enforcement then they are not 'rights', they are empty promises.

In 1988 a group of eminent Australians including former Australian Prime Minister Gough Whitlam was commissioned to look into the Australian Constitution. The Constitutional Commission handed down its report but many of its recommendations were never adopted.


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    • profile image

      ralwus 8 years ago

      Why do you suppose they haven't done this? It is imperative for our rights to hold these so dear and binding. Thanks and good luck with it.

    • barryrutherford profile image

      Barry Rutherford 8 years ago from Queensland Australia

      Its time...