Spend Australia Day contemplating rights

IN CANBERRA right now the Senate is inquiring into combining existing legislation on human rights and discrimination into one act.

The government doesn’t intend to use this opportunity to make the laws more comprehensive, despite the fact that Australia is one of the very few western nations not to have a real Bill of Rights.

Both sides of politics are, in fact, opposed to a Bill of Rights for Australia, despite the fact that Australia helped draft the UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and an Australian was the president at the head of the UN General Assembly when it was adopted.

The key themes of human rights are: equality in freedom and dignity; fairness in justice; no discrimination; and to be free to live a happy and safe life.

These are qualities all Australians would want. 

Law-makers consider that making human rights into law will restrict the laws they can pass.

But other nations have successfully done it, as have even some states in Australia.

As we come to the 225th anniversary of the arrival of the First Fleet, surely it is time we grew up and worked it out?

Our national record is an international embarrassment.

The UN High Commissioner on Human Rights, Navi Pillay, was extremely critical of Australia’s human rights record, saying that our mandatory detention of refugees – guilty of no crime – for prolonged periods was “extremely distressing”. 

On January 26, citizenship ceremonies will be held across the nation as we all welcome brothers and sisters of all origins into our country.

Australia is an eclectic melting pot which helps make it so 

wonderful.

Let’s help protect it, by safeguarding human rights on every level.

This Australia Day, spend some time to learn your 30 human rights. It is all about being Australian.

NIGEL MANNOCK

ASCOT VALE, VIC

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